Employee Motivation in the Service Industry in a Down Economy

Maria Michailidou

Student thesis: Master thesis


During the last decades work motivation has attracted the attention and the interest of the vast majority of academics and practitioners since it is commonly accepted and proven that it can lead to positive organizational results. The vast expansion and growth of the service sector renders the subject of work motivation highly relevant nowadays as it is considered to be a labor-intense sector. However, the recent economic crisis of 2008 which still affects many countries especially in the southern Europe, brought in the light a gap in the existing literature regarding employee motivation under tough economic times. The limited academic research and the need for gaining a better understanding of what drives employee motivation under all circumstances, calls for further research and attention in the field of work motivation.
The aim of the current thesis is to shed light on what motivates employees under the influence of an economic crisis in the service sector in our ages. In other words, the purpose of the present study is to identify and analyze which motivational factors are ranked as highly important by employees in the service sector in a down economy. For the purposes of the study, the hotel industry in Greece was selected as it is believed that it has all the characteristics needed in order for valid results to come out. However, it is strongly supported that other companies in the service industry could find the thesis’s findings interesting and applicable in their business strategies and policies.
The present research constitutes a combination of primary and secondary data. Secondary data are mainly based on the existing literature on work motivation and form the theoretical framework of the thesis. Primary data are collected by the use of a questionnaire distributed to ten city hotels in the area of Thessaloniki in Greece. The hotel employees who participated in the survey were asked to evaluate 21 motivational factors on a 5-point scale based on the level of interest each of these factors has for them. The list of the 21 motivational factors derives from the theoretical framework the thesis was based upon.
Based on the research outcome, employees in the service industry value as important for them the following motivational factors: (1) Salary, (2) Personal Life, (3) Relationship with Peers, (4) Supervision and (5) Relationship with Supervisor. These findings suggest that service employees under the influence of an economic crisis are mainly motivated by extrinsic factors.
The current thesis and the research outcome enable practitioners and academicians to gain a deeper understanding of what drives employee motivation in tough economic times in the service industry. Under certain conditions, HR managers could take into consideration these findings in order to form better strategies and adopt a more focused approach when attempting to address the issue of employee motivation in unstable economies.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages96
SupervisorsArisa Shollo