Substantial research regarding skilled employee motivation exists, however the same
degree of insight into what motivates semi-skilled workers, specifically through nonfinancial
rewards, is sparse. Popular motivational theories postulate that financial
rewards are the forerunner in motivating semi-skilled employees. While this may be true
in certain circumstances, this approach can be costly and disregards the potential value
semi-skilled workers might ascribe to non-financial rewards. This study aims to
understand the value semi-skilled workers attribute to non-financial rewards.
Given the limited amount of research related to semi-skilled worker motivation through
non-financial rewards, an exploratory qualitative study was conducted to gain deep
insights. 18 Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of 75 respondents
acquired through non-probability sampling. Diversity was considered through the
selection of three companies across three different industries of building retail, hotel, and
contact centre services. Interviews were conducted at three employee levels of semiskilled
workers, middle management, and senior management. The inclusion of
management levels intended to understand differences in their perception of what
motivates semi-skilled workers.
This research uncovered that semi-skilled workers are chiefly motivated by non-financial
rewards as opposed to financial rewards. Dominant non-financial motivators identified
included customer satisfaction, interaction, and team spirit, while popular forms of
demotivation included lack of work-life balance and poor management. The role of
context became apparent with themes such as culture, industry, and individual
differences emerging as reward preference influencers. Management misperceptions
illustrated a shortfall in understanding what motivates semi-skilled workers. The study
concludes with the presentation of the SCMAL motivation model as a recommendation
for management seeking to increase semi-skilled worker loyalty and discretionary effort.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2017.