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    Case Incident: Frustrated at age 30

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    Bob Wood is 30. But if you listened to him, you'd think he was 60 and washed-up. "I graduated college at a great time. It was 1996. I started as an analyst for Accenture, worked as a health-care IT consultant for two other firms, and then became chief technology officer at Claimshop.com, a medical claims processor." By 2001, Bob was making $80,000 a year plus bonus, driving an expensive European sports car, and optimistic about his future. But Bob Wood has become a statistic. He's one of 40 million Americans born between 1966 and 1975 whose peak earnings may be behind them. Bob now makes $44,000 as a technology analyst at a hospital and is trying to adjust to the fact that the go-go years of the late-1990s are history.

    Like many of his generation, Bob is mired in debt. He owes $23,000 on his college loans and has run up more than $4,500 on his credit cards. He faces a world very different from the one his father found when he graduated college in the early 1960s.

    "The rules have changed. And we Generations Xers are getting hit hard. We had to go to college to get a decent job. But the majority of us graduated with high student debt. The good news was, when we graduated, the job market was great. I got a $5,000 hiring bonus on my first job! The competition by employers for good people drove salaries up. When I was 28, I was making more money than my dad, who had been with the same company for over 20 years. But my dad has job security. And he has a nice retirement plan that will pay him a guaranteed pension when he turns 58. Now look at me. I don't know if I'll ever make $80 thou again. If I do, it'll be in 20 or more years. I have no job security. I'm paying $350 a month on my college loans. I'm paying another $250 a month on my credit card account. I've got 30 more payments on my BMW. And my girlfriend says it's time for us to settle down and get married. It would be nice to own a house, but how can I commit myself to a 30-year mortgage when I don't know if I'll have a job in six months?

    "I'm very frustrated. I feel like my generation got a bad deal. We initially got great jobs with unrealistically high pay. I admit it; we were spoiled. We got used to working one job for six months, quitting, then taking another and getting ourselves a 25 or 30 percent raise. We thought we'd be rich and retired by 40. The truth is that we're now lucky to have a job and, if we do, it probably pays half what we were making a few years ago. We have no job security. The competition for jobs, combined with pressures by business to keep costs down, means a future with minimal salary increases. It's pretty weird to be only 30 years old and to have your best years behind you!"


    1. Analyze Bob using the Maslow need hierarchy.

    2. Analyze Bob's lack of motivation using organizational justice and expectancy theory.

    3. If you were Bob's boss, what could you do to positively influence his motivation?

    4. What are the implications of this case for employers hiring Generation Xers?

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    1. Analyze Bob using the Maslow need hierarchy.

    Motivation is a set of processes that arouse, direct and maintain human behavior toward attaining some goal. Maslow's Theory specifying that there are five human needs that are arranged so that lower level, more basic needs must be satisfied before higher level needs become activated. In other words, human beings are motivated to meet their five basic needs.

    1. Physiological needs: A person starts at the bottom of the hierarchy (pyramid) and will initially seek to satisfy basic needs (e.g. food, shelter). Once these physiological needs have been satisfied, they are no longer a motivator. The individual moves up to the next level. Although Bob's basic physiological needs are being met, he appears to be unsatisfied with his 'new' position in the social stratus making only about half as he did in the 1990s.

    2. Safety needs: When the physiological needs are met the needs for security become active. Bob is feeling threatened right now instead of safe. A lack of job and refinement security, together with lower wages and debt makes Bob lack the feeling of safety, which impacts his motivation level.

    3. Social needs recognize that most people want to belong to a group. These would include the need for love and belonging (e.g. working with colleague who supports you at work, teamwork, communication). Applied to Bob, he has his work colleagues; his girl friend and family to meet his social needs. In other words, his need for love and belonging motivate Bob to form relationships. However, his threatened job and financial security are impacting his perception of his relationships, as he fears tying him into a 30 year mortgage (that his irlfriend would expect if they married) without job security.

    4. Esteem needs are about being given recognition for a job well done. They reflect the fact that many people seek the esteem and respect of others. In the past, high wages, getting hired in a new position for a higher wage or getting a bonus at work provided Bob's self-esteem. Now, he is lacking these 'external' things that had once esteemed Bob, and inner self-worth is taking a beating for Bob, as he is comparing his present situation with the past and is found wanting.

    5. Self-actualization is about how people think about themselves - this is often measured by the extent of success and/or challenge at work. Applied to Bob, Bob does not sound like he has met this need as his frustrations at other levels of needs are preventing him from self-actualizing. (Source: http://www.tutor2u.net/business/people/motivation_theory_maslow.asp)

    Applying Maslow's Theory to Motivating Bob

    A manager/boss could also apply Maslow's theory to make a rich work environment for Bob, one that meets the characteristics of the generation Xers. According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs almost all resistance and motivation issues can be traced to your employees not getting their needs met. It is important to pay attention to these five driving factors and the boss will retain employees that are satisfied and fulfilled. The theory predicts that if you can consistently meet all five needs of the employees, the boss will have an organization that is capable of accomplishing anything. However, when applying this theory, generational characteristics also need to be considered as discussed above.



    These needs are the essentials of life. Surprisingly enough, as an employer, you have a great deal to do with an employee's (Bob's) basic human needs:

    ? Food - You need to provide them time to eat and make sure they can easily access quality food.
    ? Oxygen - Make sure there that there is enough circulation in the air to provide oxygen for their brain. You'd be surprised how many ...

    Solution Summary

    Referring to the case incident of "frustrated at age 30," this solution responds to the four related questions about Bob's behavior and his motivation based on theoretical assumptions (i.e., Maslow and expectancy theory); and hiring generation Xers. References are provided.