Building a better workplace through motivation A Kellogg's case study

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Introduction

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People spend a considerable part of their lives at work, so it is not surprising that they expect to be rewarded and satisfied with the job that they do.

Motivation is concerned with why people do things as well as what drives them to behave in a particular way. Understanding what motivates individuals is important in the workplace. Research suggests that motivated employees are happier at work. They get more satisfaction from their work, are absent less often, tend to be more loyal and work with more enthusiasm. This in turn encourages them to contribute more to the development of an organisation.

This case study focuses on how Kellogg's motivates its people. It illustrates how the use of motivational techniques helps to develop the business as a 'great place to work'.

The Kellogg Company is the world’s leading producer of breakfast cereals. Its products are manufactured in 18 countries and sold in more than 180 countries. For more than 100 years, Kellogg's has been a leader in health and nutrition. It has done this by providing consumers with a wide variety of food products.

Within Kellogg's, there is a variety of functions and work roles. These include engineering operatives in the manufacturing section. Others work in finance, marketing, sales, information technology or human resources. Keeping everybody motivated no matter what their role is not easy. Kellogg's was recently placed in the top 100 of the Best Companies to Work For list in The Sunday Times.

Values and motivation

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Kellogg's values and culture support its role as a good employer. Encouraging everyone to live by the K-Values throughout the whole business creates a culture of people that have ownership over their own projects and strive for continuous improvement and industry-leading results.

These values influence the behaviour of individuals within the workplace, making Kellogg's a positive place to work. Employees are encouraged to speak positively about each other when apart, focusing on their strengths. This involves listening to others and accepting their right to their own views regarding the workplace.

The benefits of Kellogg's investing in people can best be illustrated by looking at the work of some of the theorists who have worked on motivation. The remainder of the case study shows how Kellogg's commitment to creating a 'great place to work' is supported by these theories.

Taylor

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Frederick Taylor was associated with what has become known as 'scientific management'. Taylor believed that monetary reward was an important motivating factor. Pay could simply be used to increase rates of output. Taylor’s view of motivation applies to people who tend to work within narrow job confines such as on a production line. These are people who can be paid according to the amount of work that they do or units they produce. This is known as 'piece work'.

For many people pay is still a prime motivator. For example, within Kellogg's many employees are motivated by cash alternatives which include the opportunity to buy and sell their holiday days.

Taylor's theory breaks down jobs into components or specialist tasks through the division of labour. This especially applies to production processes within large companies like Kellogg's. These rewards can help to increase productivity and profitability. The danger with this is that individuals are simply focused on output to get rewards so quality might suffer as a result of employees rushing to do the job.

Limitations of scientific management

Scientific management is not a process that allows development of people. It limits their ability to take ownership of what they do. Kellogg's staff are encouraged to be creative and use their imagination to contribute towards change. Consequently, Taylor's view of monetary reward for output is not appropriate for the motivation required for this type of workplace.

Maslow

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Maslow's theory relates motivation to a hierarchy of needs. At the bottom are essential physiological needs such as air, food, shelter and clothing. As individuals satisfy one level of need, their motivations change as they aspire to reach the higher order needs. Therefore, to motivate an individual Maslow suggests that it is necessary to know where within the hierarchy each employee is placed so that these factors can be taken into account.

Within Kellogg's every employee is motivated to work through each of these levels. As they do so, this provides positive effects for each employee and the organisation. For example:

  • Physiological needs – Kellogg's offers competitive salaries. This gives people the means to acquire the basic needs for living. The Kellogg's Cornflex flexible benefits programme allows employees to choose those benefits that suit them. This includes childcare vouchers, cash alternatives to company cars and discounted life assurance schemes. These savings and competitive salaries help workers' pay go further and so motivate them to be loyal to the company.
  • Safety needs – Kellogg's values the safety of all employees. The company is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment to prevent accidents. Employees are however accountable - that means they have to take responsibility for observing the health and safety rules and practices. Kellogg's also offers employees a range of working patterns. Some may want to work part-time, others may want career breaks or undertake homeworking. This helps employees to choose the best option for a healthy work-life balance.
  • Social needs – These are associated with a feeling of belonging. Kellogg’s operates weekly group 'huddles'. These provide informal opportunities for employees to receive and request information on any part of the business, including sales data and company products. This helps strengthen teams and enhances workers' sense of belonging. Having an open approach to communication keeps everybody focused on the company’s aims helps individuals contribute to the company's K-Values. They include values such as being positive, seeing the best in people and recognising diversity. Kellogg's positively recognises and rewards staff achievements.
  • Self-actualisation – Kellogg's provides employees with the opportunity to take on challenging and stimulating responsibilities. For example, the business provides the opportunity for individuals to take ownership of projects. This enables them to develop and improve.

Laura Bryant joined Kellogg's straight after university in 2002. She joined the Field Sales team initially. This involved visiting five to ten supermarkets a day to develop relationships at a local level. After two years her hard work was rewarded and she was promoted to Customer Marketing Manager at Head Office. This helped to raise her profile as she wanted to move into marketing. With support from her manager, Laura made the transition from Sales to Marketing as Assistant Brand Manager on Rice Krispies and Frosties. In 2009 she was promoted again to manage the marketing plan for Special K and she is now Brand Manager for Kellogg's Cornflakes. The company has helped motivate her to climb the hierarchy of needs and achieve her career ambitions.

Mayo

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Elton Mayo was the founder of the Human Relations Movement. His experiments were conducted at the Hawthorne plant in the USA during the 1930s. His work showed that taking an interest in and caring for employees can have a positive effect on employee motivation and productivity.

He showed that employees were best motivated if they worked in teams. They were also motivated if managers communicated and consulted with them more and took a greater interest in their views and wellbeing. 

Communication

Kellogg's keeps a two-way dialogue with employees through its communication programmes. This helps to empower the workforce. For example, its open-plan lobby area with coffee bar accommodates as many as 200 people. It provides an informal venue for briefings and presentations. The WK Kellogg Values Awards programme provides special recognition for what employees do and rewards them for how they perform.

‘Here at Kellogg's listening is a central premise of the way we work. We believe that our employees have some of the best ideas and that a successful company is one that listens to the grass roots feedback and acts on it. Any employee can raise an issue or a suggestion via their rep who will raise it at one of their monthly meetings.’ (Sue Platt, HR Director)

Generating ideas

The Kellogg's suggestion box scheme helps to generate ideas and improve productivity. Kellogg's has an initiative called 'Snap, Crackle and Save’ - an employee suggestion scheme to save costs within the supply chain. Hundreds of ideas have been put forward over the last couple of years. One idea suggested that the same thickness of cardboard could be used for packaging in all manufacturing plants in Europe. This saved around £250,000 per year.

Kellogg's also shows its commitment to making its business a great place to work. It provides personal development planning for employees which includes provisions such as secondments and study leave as part of staff development. This reinforces staff commitment and their sense of being treated well.

Herzberg

Herzberg felt that satisfied employees would be productive employees. Herzberg's theory is sometimes called the two-factor theory. These factors are hygiene factors and motivators.

Hygiene factors are often referred to as 'dissatisfiers'. These are elements in the workplace that could make employees unhappy, such as excessive company bureaucracy or an autocratic working environment.

Herzberg motivators (sometimes called 'satisfiers') are aspects of any workplace that give individuals job satisfaction. These include, for example, the level of responsibility of the job, promotion or recognition for effort and performance. Herzberg believed that businesses needed to ensure hygiene factors were minimised in order to enable motivators to have their full effect.

Motivating factors

Kellogg's has developed a number of motivating factors. These are designed to ensure that Kellogg’s is perceived as a good place to work and a desirable employer of choice. For example, Kellogg's has a 'Fit for Life' programme offering employees access to fitness centres, free health checks and annual fitness assessments by healthcare specialists every spring.

It also provides a 'summer hours' programme from May to September so if employees have worked a full week's hours by noon on a Friday, they can finish work at that point. This means employees can adjust their working hours to balance their work against family or lifestyle commitments.

Awareness of motivating factors helps Kellogg's to build a business that delivers consistently strong results. Other initiatives within the organisation include:

  • flexitime, home working, part-time working and job sharing
  • career breaks, parental leave, time off for dependents and maternity and paternity leave
  • on-site gyms or subsidised access to local facilities.

Claire Duckworth works in the Consumer Insight team at Kellogg's. She takes part in Latin American ballroom dancing competitively with her partner. They are ranked 7th in England in the over-35 category. Flexible working at Kellogg's enables her to travel to events and provides her with the opportunity to pursue her hobby at a serious level. This opportunity to adjust her working life to accommodate her personal ambitions makes Claire feel respected and supported.

Motivators within the Kellogg's company reflect the different personal aspirations of staff. The working environment provides the opportunity to move forward and take on responsibilities. There is clear recognition and reward for performance.

For example, the Kellogg's sales team meets every Friday morning to share success stories of the week. Once a month it recognises individuals that have worked above and beyond the K-Values. Winners receive a range of awards ranging from cash prizes, vouchers or holiday entitlements.

Conclusion

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This case study illustrates the range of different motivation measures in practice at Kellogg's. It demonstrates that highly motivated employees can improve efficiency, output and quality for a business.

Motivating staff helps to make them more committed to the workplace. By understanding the effects of different motivation techniques, Kellogg's is able to make work a more exciting and interesting experience for employees whilst creating a more productive, profitable and competitive business.

Kellogg's | Building a better workplace through motivation