Implementation of Work Autonomy: Analytical Essay

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Introduction

Working in a public sector requires specific characteristics and behavior to overcome the struggles of delivering services to the masses. Often times, practices that are prevalent and effective to companies doesn’t necessarily applies to the public sector. The schemes of measuring the work done, motivation applied to employees and strategies for performance enhancement are somewhat different. While there are certain instances where practices can be both implemented to both sectors, which is rare, the common scenario would be, practices and theories varies from one sector to another.

Mcclelland’s Need Theory explained that a person’s behavior is specifically based on their needs. There are three (3) basic needs of an employee or worker, the need of achievement, affiliation and power. And one characteristics of the Need of Achievement would be working alone. The need for work-autonomy is the new trend. As the world is constantly changing, workforce is multigenerational draining traditional practices out of the system and being replace with modern ways and strategies.

Companies like Facebook and Google have fully implemented work autonomy in their workforce. Younger generations of workers and employees love their freedom and has manifest on the way they want to work. Nguyen et. al. stated that more autonomy is expected to be associated with greater job satisfaction because workers have more freedom to determine their own effort and work schedule.

While this practice can be fully implemented in the private sector, public sectors are a bit skeptical about it. Public sector employees are bound by their sworn oath of serving the masses and public. Liberty would often pose threats and disadvantages for both the employee and the organization concerned. It was argued that tensions can arise between the promotion of a discourse of autonomy versus the need to control employees to achieve centrally determined objectives efficiently, or by creating expectations that are not fulfilled. (Lin. et. al.)

However, advantages of work autonomy that could compensate the drawbacks are being studied upon. Establishing autonomy and independence in the work force reduces management intervention as well as fully understanding and modifying the way each function of the organization or institution operates. Taiwan Community Health Centers employees’ showed that job autonomy has positive work outcome; greater work satisfaction and less intent to leave. (Lin et. Al.) Other researches had also come up with conclusions that work autonomy has relationship with varying factors like age, work position, years of service and more.

In the local government sector, there are only few researches and studies about the impact and effect of work autonomy on employee’s behavior in work. It is an unknown practice specially in the LGU of rural areas. The culture of work effort is often the traditional way in the location or sites that are not easily penetrated or blended by modernization and change.

Therefore, this study investigates how work-autonomy would affect employee behaviors and motivation. It has its focus on the relationship of work autonomy on varying factors – age, years in service, work classification and job position. Furthermore, it also tries to investigate the levels of work-autonomy that co-relates with the level of job satisfaction and performance of an employee.

Statement of the Problem

This study aims to determine how work autonomy affects job satisfaction and job performance. Specifically, it seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. To what level of work autonomy do public employees feel job satisfaction?
  2. What level of work autonomy do public employees prefer with respect to the following factors:
    1. Age
    2. Years in service
    3. Job classificationtitle
  3. Is there a relationship between work autonomy and job performance of public employees?

Objectives of the Study

This study will be conducted to determine how work autonomy affects job satisfaction and job performance. It specifically aims to:

  1. Determine the extent of work autonomy does public employees feel job satisfaction.
  2. Determine the level of work autonomy preferred by public employees, with respect to the following factors:
    1. Age
    2. Years of service
    3. Job classificationtitle
    4. Work environment
  3. Investigate whether there is a relationship between work autonomy and job performance of public employees.

Scope and Delimitation of the Study

The study will be conducted at the Provincial Capitol of Quirino for the month of March to May, 2021. The research will focus mainly on the three objectives set on this research namely: 1.) level of autonomy affecting job satisfaction, 2.) different level of autonomy preferred by different employees with respect to their age, years in service and job classificationtitle, and lastly 3.) relationship of work autonomy and job performance. 250 employees from the various offices of the Provincial Capitol of Quirino which was the result of cluster sampling done will be the respondents of the study.

However, limitations of the study will be also be observed. Since duration of the study will be between the months of March to May and currently the world is under a pandemic certain health protocols and work guidelines will be taken into consideration. The distribution and dissemination of questionnaires will be send online hence the observance and consideration of respondents’ honesty and integrity will be taken into account.

Significance of the Study

“When employees feel they have the control over their behaviors, or they could engage in certain tasks discretionally, they would be highly motivated and are more willing to work.” (Gong, et. Al.) Employee motivation is always a grey area in an organization. Having the right motivating factor and design for employees can either promote good performance in their work or make them leave and quit work. This can be the case on establishing work autonomy on public employees. Delivering the best motivating scheme to employees is a vital part of achieving organizational goals and simply getting the job done.

Studying the impact of this unfamiliar concept of motivating public employees is important for it will not only help the organization achieve their goal through motivating employees, but more of, it will help the employees understand their working techniques and strategies of making doing the job effectively and efficiently, thus this research. The result of this study will be deemed beneficial to the following groups of people:

Employees. With the findings of this research, employees will understand the work scheme best fit to each one of them. As well as, it will help promote accountability and commitment to the work assigned. The findings on this study will also be able to help in achieving and maintaining a good work and life balance.

Organization. It is uncommon for public offices to promote work autonomy yet, with the result of this study, public organizations or institutions will understand the behavior of their employees, thus creating an effective enhancement and satisfying work motivational package for each type of employee. A happy employee is an effective and efficient worker. Combining both would likely result to achieving organizational goals as well as successfully delivering service to the public without invalidating the needs of employees. This creates a system of trust between employees and organization.

Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined operationally to help the readers understand the context and purpose of the study:

Effectiveness. The capability of an employee to accomplish the task correctly and accurately.

Efficiency. The ability of an employee to accomplish the work the fastest possible way with the least effort or performance.

Job Performance. The degree or level of an employee’s effort to accomplish the assigned job or work.

Job Satisfaction. The degree or level of an employee’s confidence and contentment with his or her work.

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Motivation. A package of benefits, strategies or schemes that push an employee to perform at their best, achieving the goal of the organization.

Organization. A system or network of people that works together to achieve a desired goal and deliver service to the end users.

Public Employee. A person who applied and get hired to work for a public office.

Public Office. An organization or institution that is devoted to delivering services to the masses or the public.

Work Autonomy. The liberty given to an employee to decide the phase of the work and how to accomplish the same.

Review of related Literature

This part presents the literature and studies that guided the research and helped the researcher organized the study. These literature and studies supplied the information and data that enlightened the study about work autonomy as motivation and its impact on job performance and job satisfaction.

Motivation

Over the decades, motivation plays an important role in the way a person behaves and performs. This has been one of the most important yet one of the most difficult part in running an organization. Several traditional strategies are less effective because of the challenging new trends in terms of work environment, norms, and employee’s behavior.

According to Al Jasmi (2012), employees are the main contributor and effective factor of an organization’s success. Researches and studies often revealed that a motivated employee is an efficient and effective worker. This type of worker will contribute greatly in the organization’s goals and objectives.

Crafting a motivation scheme for one employee to another can be complicated. Motivation is commonly patterned with employee’s behaviors, wants, and needs. There are two types of motivation. It is common knowledge that there is an intrinsic motivation, as well as extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic Motivations are the ones that come from ‘internal’ factors to meet personal needs. (Cebollero, 2014). This is simply doing the job because it is Inherently interesting and fun. This means that employees accomplishes task because they’re enjoying the work, and are feeling comfortable with the way it is done and as well as the phasing and timeline. Extrinsic Motivation are those things that originates form ‘external’ factors and are can be controlled by the organization. (Cebollero, 2014) This motivates employees because of the outcome after the work has been accomplished. Normally, salary and recognition are the common samples of this type of motivation. It is debated whether which of the two types can be more promising and more effective for both the employee and organization in the short and long periods of time. Nonetheless, employees need one or the other, or they need both extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.

There are also different theories concerning motivation. These theories generally relate employee behaviors to motivational levels or classifications. Though time and as the world evolves and changes, with the occurrence of trends, theories and concepts are formed and adds up to the list. But traditionally and commonly, there are three (3) founded theories of motivation.

The first and most popular would be the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. This theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging needs (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization. (McLeod, 2020) Maslow also states that lower level needs to be satisfied before progressing to the next one. But it was further elaborated that, it is not an ‘all-or-none’ phenomenon.

Another theory of motivation is the Hezberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory also known as the two-factor theory. This is a practical approach to motivating employees. According to Herzberg, there are factors that results to satisfaction, as well as factors that results to dissatisfaction. (Juneja, 2018) The implication for organizations to use this theory is that satisfying employee’s extrinsic factors will only stop them from feeling dissatisfied but the motivation to put an additional effort for better performance with work is not enough or rather not met. (Wan Fauziah Wan Yusoff, 2013)

The last familiar theory of motivation would be the McClellands uman Motivation Theory. The theory explains the process of motivation by breaking down the what and how’s of needs and the right way of approaching different needs. The three important aspects of the theory would be Achievement, Power and Affiliation. These three aspects greatly affect and influence a person’s behavior. Classifying first the individual’s ultimate need and approaching it one by one depending on the classification is the way for this theory.

Work Autonomy, Job Satisfaction and Job Performance

Autonomy in the workplace simply means that employees have the liberty or freedom to choose how, when and strategies to accomplish the work. Work autonomy can be also defined as the practice of delegating authority, responsibility and accountability from the top level command down to the lower level employees giving liberty in decision-making with respect to the assigned task or work. (Leach et. al., 2003 p.28) This is viewed in the sense that, through the establishment of work autonomy in the workplace, layers of management are slowly remove. Moreover, it involves a shift in the operation of fundamental functions of the organization. (Boyne, 1999)

The concept of autonomy in the workplace is the new trend of businesses and organizations. Most large companies like Google and Facebook have fully implemented autonomy in their working arrangements of employees. These companies encourage autonomy for it is believed that a happier employee fosters productivity and creativity. Employees are not restricted with the working environment and with strict policies, schedules and work arrangements.

Public employees are more restricted than those working in a corporate and business world, thus making it hard to implement work autonomy in this field. But researches and studies proved that schemes seeking to empower employees and reducing hierarchies in the operation and management improves productivity and performance.

A study of Taiwan Public Health Center employees showed that work autonomy definitely helps in the productivity and efficiency in the work. Furthermore, different levels of autonomy are preferred by different types and classification of public employees. The study found that permanent staff in the community health centers have more job autonomy than the fixed-term staff have. This result is similar to the study of Han, et. al., 2009, showing higher level of autonomy on permanent nurses than those temporary nurses.

While it is evident that autonomy affects job satisfaction and job performance, organizations are a bit skeptical in promoting and encouraging the implementation in the public offices. Employees should have the capability and skills development to handle autonomy in working effectively. Organizations need also to invest in empowering workshops, trainings and employee development to take advantage of the benefits of autonomy.

Job satisfaction and performance are two interrelating concept of management. Job satisfaction can directly affect job performance. But in rare instances, wen job satisfaction is abuse there would be loss of effort to perform. Employee tends to be complacent and do mediocre works when there is comfortability. Balance for these three concepts is the key to achieve the optimum benefits and opportunities to the employee’s progress and organization’s success.

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