An investigation into the preferred motivational factors of the Generation Y staff at a South African civil engineering consultancy company

Henderson, Peter (2010-12)

Thesis (MBA (Business Management))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.


The South African civil engineering profession is facing a crisis. This crisis which has occurred as a result of a diminishing numbers of qualified and experienced technical staff, which is due to an ageing professional population, a very understaffed 30 - 45 year old age group, and a relatively large junior technical staff component. This hour-glass shaped distribution of civil engineering technical staff has made experience and knowledge transfer difficult and extremely important. Civil engineering is a profession where a significant part of an engineer's knowledge is tacit and is gained from practical experience. To gain the necessary experience requires time, and it is in finding this time, amidst an increasingly competitive operating environment and overworked staff, that is becoming a hurdle for the civil engineering profession. The transfer of experience and knowledge needs to be accelerated; however, this requires an energised and motivated staff component. This relates to both those who pass on the knowledge and those that receive the same. This transfer process is time consuming and expensive. A consulting civil engineering company's financial investment in the training of its Generation Y (staff under the age of 30) is thus substantial. Because of this, the retention of these staff members becomes critical for the long term sustainability of the company. This research seeks to determine what motivates the Generation Y staff within Goba Consulting Engineers. Further to this, the research sought to determine what the preferred motivational factors are for the Generation Y staff who work for Goba Consulting Engineers. The objective of the research was for the results to be used as a tool for Goba Consulting Engineers to formulate a human resource policy that would seek to increase the motivation and job satisfaction of its Generation Y staff, and in so doing increase the retention rate of these personnel. Goba Consulting Engineers is a national civil consulting company that has 22 per cent of its staff in the Generation Y category (under the age of 30). These staff members were presented with a questionnaire containing questions about their basic needs, their preferred organisational structure and their preferred motivational factors. The questionnaire was housed on an external internet website and was to be completed electronically, which ensured anonymity of response. Only 37 per cent of the target population completed all the questions contained in the questionnaire. The responses were grouped, as per the research questions. The groups included individuals of different ethnic, administrative, regional and academic qualifications within Goba Consulting Engineers. The grouped responses were tested to determine whether they were statistically representative of the Generation Y staff within Goba Consulting Engineers. The results of the survey showed that the basic needs of the staff across the groupings were the same, with the need for growth being shown to be the most valued and desired. The responses also showed that the type of organisational structure preferred was that of a mechanistic type. The preferred motivational factor results revealed that differences between the groups, and that a strong emphasis was placed on factors that related to an integration of work and home/social/external life and influence. These results indicate that the conventional engineering management approach to motivation and reward may not be valid with respect to the Generation Y staff, and as such it may be prudent for Goba Consulting Engineers to formulate polices that are more applicable to these staff members.

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