Synopsis of the Research Work

The paper will discuss employee satisfaction and productivity in the workplace. The following questions will explore the research: 1) What is the level of satisfaction among employees about the nature of their work? 2) What are the determinants of employee satisfaction? 3) What should motivate an employee to increase company productivity? 4) How can the company give employees their greatest satisfaction? My main goals are to find the value of job satisfaction related to productivity and to recommend the company to give employees their maximum satisfaction. The case of Firestone Liberia is right for this research.

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In 1926, Firestone signed a concession for 99 years lease to do business in Liberia. Firestone covers an area of approximately 405,000 hectares of land for rubber plantation, thus occupying 4% of Liberia’s territory and 10% of the nation’s growing land. Since its establishment, the company has provided more jobs to Liberia, and it is ranked the largest private employer in Liberia’s economy. An estimation of Firestone total workforce is 14,000 and 70% of this workforce are laborers (tappers).

Over the years, the company has gained huge profits from the sales of rubber, at the expense of the workers. A report published indicated that between 2000 and 2003 Firestone Liberia exported 167,165 tons of rubber. In 2007, Firestone received $81,242,190 from its production in Liberia. With these marginal revenues gained to the company, Firestone employees are demanding an increment in their daily wages from US$8.36 to US$12.50. They also have complained of poor working conditions, unsafe working measures in the workplace and dilapidated housing units among others. The company is yet to address their plight.

Meanwhile, the aggrieved workers have been tediously working to make sure the company generates productivity and profitability. Yet they are being underpaid and required to meet up with the company’s production benchmark. A report disclosed that each worker is paid the daily wage of US$5 to tap 500 rubber trees before the night falls. Nicholas Jahr reported how tedious the job is for these laboring tappers:

The tapper scrapes a thin layer of bark from the Heave tree, peeling it down and around the trunk. Cut too close and the tree will be wounded; fail to cut close enough and the tree won’t bleed enough latex. Older trees are wrapped with scars, and the tappers stretch to reach the untouched heights. Once the cut is made, the tapper guides the thin trickle of latex that seeps from the exposed cambium down to a small cup attached to the trunk. Then they move on to the next tree, and the next, working row after row, hundreds of trees a day, while the latex slowly pools. Eventually, they pour the cups into buckets and then haul the 150-pound load about a mile over their shoulders to a collection station where the latex is consolidated and loaded on to trucks.

Though Firestone Liberia might be offering many jobs to Liberians, the nature of the job does not afford each employee to live above the poverty line. The employees also complained about receiving their benefits upon retirement. Most of them were born on the plantation and have been tapping rubber through all their whole lives. Now they are growing older and feeble and see it fit to have a better wage that would settle them. Now they cannot afford to lose everything they have worked for and fail to support their children in the nearby future. This situation is pathetic and should attract the attention of policymakers.

Ascribing to the concept that salary can influence employees’ satisfaction and motive them to increase productivity, I shall further discuss the economic theory of the marginal revenue product of, which explains that if one employee is productive, she or she should have a high marginal revenue product, therefore, wage should be given based on their ability or inputs to produce work. In the case of Firestone workers, the piece-work theory, which supports the MRPL theory will be expanded and adopted, given the proposed alternative that each Firestone worker should be paid based on the number of trees tapped, and not per day. I also will adopt other applicable theories of employment satisfaction from Organizational Psychology to further support my point. For example, I shall evaluate Maslow’s, Adam’s, Herzberg’s theory of employee satisfaction and assess the motivational models, namely, situational model, interactional model, and dispositional model.

Finally, I will use the qualitative method for the research design. An interview will be conducted with key workers of the companies and outsiders, including journalists who had reported on the company and the employees. I shall evaluate the Decent Work Act of Liberia and the Firestone Employer and Workers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).


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