Sample Nursing Essays on Expectancy Theory and Job Enrichment

Employee turnover is one of the many challenges of the conventional workplace, and every organizational management aims at reducing the rates of turnover among employees. Not only does turnover result in lower productivity due to increased workloads for the remaining employees, but it also results in increased costs of recruitment and training. One of the strategies that organizations commonly use in reducing turnover is employee motivation. Several approaches exist to employee motivation, but most of them are linked to the concepts of expectancy and job enrichment. Job enrichment is directly tied to job satisfaction, which is one of the factors that promote motivation. Similarly, expectancy is intricately tied to needs satisfaction, which is also a key concept in employee motivation. Good organizational management will, therefore, consider these two concepts as foundational theoretical frameworks for problem-solving in the workplace to keep employees consistently motivated and effective in their responsibilities.

Theoretical Frameworks

The expectancy theory is a process theory of motivation. The theory posits that people would be motivated to go through any given process if they are assured that the end of the process brings about a certain reward. People perceive the expected reward as a direct function of the efforts put in the process and are, therefore, more willing to go through the process and put a lot of effort into it. According to Lunenburg (2011), various versions of the expectancy theory exist, but all of them emphasize the effects of the environment on the actor. This effect implies that the actor has to perceive a positive benefit directly related to his/her actions, and the environment has to demonstrate and prove that the positive outcome is a definite effect of the efforts of the actor. Vroom developed the expectancy theory based on three components, namely, expectancy, instrumentality, and valence (Lunenburg 2011). The expectancy element is the actual belief that increased effort would be equated to increased benefits. Various conditions have to be satisfied for expectancy to be achieved. There ought to be adequate resources for the intended action, sufficient support to carry out the intended activity, and the right skills-set for the activity (Shweiki et al. 2015). The combination of these factors creates a suitable environment for expectance, wherein only the effort of the actor will determine the difference between success and failure.

Instrumentality is the perception that the positive outcomes of strong effort would go directly to the individual putting in the effort. For instrumentality to be feasible, certain conditions have to be fulfilled. The first is that there has to be a clear understanding of the relationship between the expected outcomes and the performance of the individual in question. Secondly, the people who decide who gets the rewards have to be trusted. Thirdly, there has to be transparency in the giving of the reward (Lunenburg 2011). If any of these conditions is missing, the probability of missing the reward even after a good performance can be sufficient to reduce employee morale. The third component is the valence, which is defined as the value attached to the intended outcome. The valence attached to certain outcomes can vary from one person to another, and recognizing the value that individual places on a particular form of reward can help to establish strategies for employee rewards (Chopra 2019). The concept of valence can be linked to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which posits that every individual would be motivated by a need in the next level of the needs hierarchy from where they already are (De Simone 2015). For instance, an individual who is at the first level of needs would be motivated by increased income while one at the fourth level would desire recognition. Understanding these differences in value would help an organizational manager to define the kinds of rewards that would be given to employees at different levels in the organizational structure upon the accomplishment of their targets.

The second theoretical concept that would be considered in organizational behavior management is that of job enrichment. Job enrichment is aimed at improving the level of human satisfaction and task efficiency by expanding the scope of job recognition and opportunities for personal achievement (Choudhary 2016). The most commonly used strategy to achieve this is giving more responsible and challenging work. Additionally, giving greater opportunity for growth and individual advancement can help attain higher job enrichment. The practice of job enrichment is also concerned with various matters, including communications, working conditions, and training (Vijay and Indradevi 2015). Each of these activities can improve the level of job satisfaction of employees and thereby improve their willingness to engage in a wider range of workplace activities that result in effort recognition. The accomplishment of job enrichment results in increased motivation and job satisfaction. Skill-building also results from the enrichment process and can be the foundation of stronger performance in organizational responsibilities.

Application of Theory to Practice

Considering the relevance of both the expectancy theory and the concept of job enrichment to the work environment, it is clear that they can be used in managing organizational behavior and in solving various organizational problems. For instance, in my role as a nurse manager, I have faced various workplace-related issues that I feel can be addressed through the application of these two concepts. The most common concern in the workplace is that of low morale among nurses. Low morale in the workplace is commonly associated with high levels of dissatisfaction. A report by Fink (2014) shows that low morale is a workplace issue that can result in high costs in the workplace, increased conflict, and reduced quality of care in the nursing environment. Additionally, the reduced quality of care would result in increased patient complaints and increased employee turnover rates. Consequently, understanding the reason behind low morale can help to address the issue and avert the negative outcomes commonly associated with low morale. Fink suggests that, in most cases, low employee morale is caused by a lack of empowerment, lack of opportunities for professional growth, and poor communication from leaders, among others. To address the issue of morale, therefore, there will be a need to explore the actual drivers of morale deep in the facility and address them.

The concerns raised around the lack of opportunities for career growth and lack of empowerment relate directly to the lack of job enrichment. When considering the applicability of job enrichment towards enhancing employee morale, the focus ought to be on how to make the work environment more interesting by broadening the challenges that nurses can face and thus increasing their capacity. In most cases, the feeling of lack of empowerment arises when nurses are not engaged in decision making in the activities that directly involve them in the workplace (Larsson and Sahlsten 2016). As such, it is recommended that moving forward, there should be continuous employee engagement not only to increase their participation and their challenges in decision making but also to make them realize how much value they add to the process. Opportunities for career growth can also be incorporated as part of the general job enrichment outlook, whereby individuals that are committed to doing more than the basics are assured of opportunities for further training and/or promotions when they arise (SHRM 2020). Such opportunities are also linked to the rewards system advocated for under the expectancy theory, in that the awareness that significant effort would be recognized and would create opportunities for training and/or promotion would inevitably be a motivation towards greater morale.

Some of the problems faced by nurse managers, such as myself, in the work environment are derived from the lack of morale, and once the lack of morale is addressed, these problems eventually cease to exist. For instance, one of the issues commonly faced is that of absenteeism. Other issues include poor performance among the nursing and maintenance staff and poor communication with the line staff. These issues are described by various studies and attributed to underlying issues, mainly lack of morale and/or motivation. For instance, Fink (2014) describes these factors as some of the symptoms of low morale. Increased absenteeism, frequent conflicts with employees, reduced productivity, disorganized work environments, and routine complaints about insignificant issues at work, and increased complaints from patients are all factors that signify reduced morale. Cheema and Asrar-ul-Haq (2017) assert that employee morale, participation, and motivation are interrelated aspects of organizational behavior, and any negative outcome in any of them results in negative outcomes in the others. Thus, improving any of these aspects is deduced to also result in positive outcomes in other aspects. Accordingly, the strategies outlined in accordance with the practice of job enrichment and in line with the expectancy theory can be considered as holistic approaches to enhancing motivation, and subsequently, participation and morale.

Another commonly faced problem is that of micro-management. While the leaders who engage in micro-management have the perception that it is the best approach to realizing positive results, the practice is often perceived to be constraining and negatively impactful. According to Michelle et al. (2015), micro-management in a nursing environment is one of the examples of ineffective leadership practices that result in a damaged relationship, job dissatisfaction, and high staff turnover. Poor teamwork is another outcome associated with micro-management. Kondalkar (2007) also describes ineffective leadership forms and associates micro-management with egoistic leadership, where employees feel bullied. In such an environment, there is inevitably a dip in productivity as the employees feel unappreciated and misunderstood. Motivation theories, on the other hand, emphasize the need for recognizing employee contribution to organizational success, autonomy at work, and the consideration of employees as qualified to do their jobs effectively (Vijay and Indradevi 2015). Accordingly, micro-management gives a negative vibe that discourages commitment and job satisfaction. As a manager, therefore, a reference to motivation theories, such as the expectancy theory, can help to create an environment in which employees feel appreciated and are able to perform their best.

From the expectancy theory, most of the emphasis is often placed on the link between positive outcomes and efforts. However, the theory could also work in a negative direction (Lunenburg 2011), whereby employees cease to put in significant efforts in their work upon realizing that any such effort is misconstrued, and the management prefers to micro-manage. To avert the negative outcomes that result from this loss of effort, there has to be a deliberate decision by the management to foster autonomy in the workplace. One way to achieve this is by reversing the flow of expectancy through rewarding those who manage to achieve their goals independently, and those who have shown significant inclination to be autonomous in decision making while still maintaining the principles of teamwork (Shweiki et al. 2015). By doing this, the nursing management will not only promote the feeling of engagement, which translates to a certain level of job enrichment but will also be fostering the development of an organizational culture in which managers are not overworked on account of micro-management.

Other workplace problems, such as lack of growth, can be addressed through authentic leadership. In this regard, authentic leadership is defined as the perception developed by employees following equal treatment of all employees by the management. Authentic leadership provides a good environment for the development of a strong expectancy culture in that the outcomes of effort would not be seen to differ based on who applies the effort. By avoiding favoritism in promotions and job assignments, the organization will help employees to consider the leadership as legitimate and thus expect to be rewarded in commensurate with their efforts at all times.


The workplace environment is often characterized by a lot of factors. Some of the factors that have an immense impact on organizational performance are motivation and job satisfaction. The theory of expectancy provides the basis of motivation in the workplace, through the implication that employees are rewarded in accordance with the efforts placed on their work. The job enrichment theory, on the other hand, focuses on expanding the professional reach of the work environment to promote job satisfaction. These factors are applied to everyday problems in the nursing environment by providing descriptions of how they affect the workplace and how they can be used to attain greater benefits in the workplace.



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