Employees’ Motivation In General Motors Company

General Motors Company, also known as General Motors or GM, has been driving the cutoff points of transportation and innovation for more than 100 years. General Motors has a vision of a future with zero accidents, zero emissions and zero congestion and they are committed to leading the way towards this future. They are a very open and inclusive company in which they strive to make each, and every person feel welcome and valued. They aim to be one big team where all ideas are heard, where everyone can add to their fullest potential, with a culture based in respect, accountability and equality. General Motors is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and at their headquarters is over 180,000 people, serving 6 continents, across 23 time zones and speaking 70 languages. Innovation is the main goal of General Motors, as the first company to produce an electric car, they are constantly aiming for new innovative ideas. General Motors, founded on September 16, 1908, is one of the world’s largest motor-vehicle manufacturers, they have many manufacturing and assembling plants along with distribution centers throughout the United States along with multiple other countries. General Motors is majorly known for their automobiles and trucks, accompanied by products such as automotive components and engines. The core automobile brands GM owns includes; Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac along with a couple foreign brands such as Holden Australia, Baojun, and SAIC-GM-Wuling.

Assessment of the Organization

Employee Wellness Initiatives

During the 1990s, General Motors was very focused on reducing health care costs by improving the health of its employees. They launched a corporate wellness program called LifeSteps in April of 1996, which included, “quarterly newsletters on health topics, toll-free 24-hour telephone line access to nurses for health advice, and a health risk appraisal (a multi-item survey that assigned respondents a wellness score based on their responses), among other initiatives. ” (Burke, R. J. 2014). The health risk appraisal consists of a multi-item survey that assigns respondents with a wellness score based on their responses. The individuals are categorized in their likelihood of developing diseases such as smoking, drinking excessively, having high levels of cholesterol, being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle and being under stress. At some GM plants, they provided on-site assessments of multiple things like weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Employees with three or more of these risk factors, high-risk employees, were highly encouraged to participate in counseling that would assist behavioral change. These high-risk employees could also have two doctors’ visits fully paid for by General Motors. Overall, they found that using the corporate wellness program LifeSteps, increased the overall wellness scores and decreased a large amount of people in the high-risk category into the low-risk category. At the end of the study, they came to the overall conclusion that with the help of the wellness program LifeSteps, each person was able to save around $42, which is a sizable amount considering the company has about 1. 25 million employees.

Overall, I think the whole idea General Motors Company had behind the corporate wellness program LifeSteps, was a really good start to getting things going for the better of their employees. I found the quarterly newsletters on health topics to be a great idea, because nobody was being forced to read the information, but the information was free and accessible to anyone who wanted or needed it. I also found the 24-hour telephone line that was free and gave access to nurses for health advice a fantastic idea. I feel that a person struggling with something would feel much more comfortable talking through their phone and on their own time versus being pressured in person and not wanting to talk about an issue they might be having. The health risk appraisals on the other hand gave me a lot of very mixed emotions. On one end of the spectrum, I found it to be a great idea because a lot of people aren’t concerned nor do they have the access to see if they are in an area where diseases like being overweight, smoking, drinking excessively, having high levels of cholesterol, etc. will possibly have an effect on their life. But on the other end of the spectrum, the fact that high-risk employees are encouraged to participate in counseling to help with behavioral changes is probably not the best on your psychological health. Knowing that other employees could possibly know about you being high-risk along with the fact that counseling is now being thrown in your face for behavioral changes is most likely going to affect your work in a negative way and make you not want to go to work. The only positive thing I see for these high-risk people is that General Motors cares enough to pay for two doctors’ visits that some of these people may not be able to afford themselves. I also found the idea of on-site assessments of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol to be a great idea, but at the end of the day workers should not have to do that. There are plenty of people that the last thing they want to do is go into work and have things like their weight be a part of their work. I realize that General Motors is just trying to help keep their employees healthy, but adult workers shouldn’t be forced to do things like that at work. My suggestion for their employee wellness initiatives would be keeping all of these ideas but making some of these things optional. This way all of your employees have access to ways of being healthier, but nobody is being forced or having feelings that the company is trying to get to them by things like on-site assessments.

Employee Motivation

In 1969, two General Motors plants both located in the Atlanta area with similar working conditions had completely different performance records. The plant in Doraville was known as a “sweetheart operation” while the plant in Lakewood was known as a disaster area. Dr. Rensis Likert developed a system known as System 4 management, which would measure the characteristics of an organization and formulate a way for the organization to move from its current state to the ideal state. Likert came up with a questionnaire that ranged from 50 to 100 items that focused on factors including; organizational climate, leadership behavior, and the perception of employees concerning work related topics such as decision making, communication, and satisfaction. After gaining this data, the organization is then identified as a System 1 which is Exploitative-Authoritative, a System 2 which is Benevolent-Authoritative, a System 3 which is Consultative, or a System 4 which is Participation Group. Ideally, every organization is aiming to be at a System 4 because they have the most effective performance. After giving all salaried employed the questionnaire, the overall scores indicated that Lakewood was a System 2 operation while Doraville was a System 4. A variety of projects were put into place at Lakewood in order to try and make them a System 4 operation. To start, a top performing manager at Doraville, Frank Schotters, was transferred to Lakewood for a look at a System 4 leadership. Also, multiple line executives from Lakewood went to the General Motors Institute and received special training. Training sessions were then held for staff members and for the supervisory force that focused on increased involvement and management-employee relationships along with mutual understanding and trust. The supervisory force received training that focused on communication, goal setting and team building. “A basic theory in the Lakewood program was that the informed employee is the involved employee” (Dowling, W. F. 1975). Hourly level employees received information such as future products, organizational and facility changes, quality, etc. , but most importantly they were given feedback on their labor costs compared to labor costs at similar GM plants. Manager Frank Schotters found that providing employees with labor costs or any other performance measurement that were out of line really helped motivate them the bring them in line. After all of the training and other projects, results took time to show, but within a year you could see improvement and within 8 years Lakewood became one of the best General Motors plants from previously being one of the worst.

Overall, I think that the ideas behind the System 4 Builds project was really helpful in turning around a struggling organization into a successful organization. My only concern I have for this system is how accurate the questionnaire answers are with relating them to one of the four systems. It is never disclosed if these surveys remain anonymous or not which could have an effect on how employees choose to answer the questions. Some employees may answer dishonestly because they might not want to be treated differently or get their job taken away. My suggestions for the questionnaire part of the system would be to ensure that all of the data is anonymous and also for each question adding in a writing option to better explain how this area is and how the employee feels about it in their own words. They can also add in any suggestions they think would be helpful but also add in what they think is working if anything is working in this area of organization. Then, I really liked how depending on the place and the classification of which system they ranked as, different projects were then put into place. The only problem with these different projects is not knowing which ones are really working or not working because so many are being implemented at one time. I think that one project should be implemented at a time and given a span of time to start working before engaging in another project. I feel that this was a major reason it took so much time for results to really start showing because of all the different projects happening at one time it made it very difficult to be able to perfect one. All in all, this system seemed to be pretty great in getting employees motivated to make performance results higher. With some subtle changes to the system, I feel that it could be even more motivating to employees which in time will make the organizations a lot more successful.

Selection of Employees

General Motors Company has a very simple 3 step process that takes about six to eight weeks for selected employees. They encourage everybody to apply whether they are a very experienced professional, they are a recent graduate or even in the process of getting a degree. Step 1 of the process includes connecting, searching and applying. General Motors highly encourages applicants to review all opportunities at GM along with connecting with a recruiter on job sites such as LinkedIn. While looking through the different job opportunities, evaluate the responsibilities and qualifications of the job and figure out if they match your skills and interest. Once you find what you think to be the perfect fit for you, complete and application and submit it online. Next comes Step 2 of the process which includes reviewing and interviews. The recruiters at GM will review all the applications to first figure out if the candidates meet all of the basic qualifications and then selection of top candidates will occur. These selected candidates are then emailed with simple instructions on completing a personal assessment along with a digital interview and possibly a phone screen interview. The applicant review process takes about three to four weeks and then the qualified candidates are contacted to set up an interview. For intern roles, the interview process is typically a 30-minute digital interview, for entry-level roles, the interview process is usually a two-hour digital interview, and for experienced roles, the interview process is usually a two-hour in person interview. Lastly is Step 3 of the process which includes the final selection and offer. Once the interview process is complete, the General Motors interview team will then identify the most qualified candidate and then extend a job offer to them. After the candidate accepts the job offer, the new employee will then begin onboarding processes. Also, at this time, the non-selected candidates will be notified. After talking with Westlie Brock, a district sales manager, she stated that General Motors makes the interview process fairly easy and simple to follow along.

Overall, I think General Motors Company makes the selection of employees a very easy process to be a part of. When Westlie Brock applied for an entry-level job, she had just graduated from college and had no experience at all. She really studied and prepared herself for the interview process and ended up getting a position. During the interview process, the recruiters were very nice and made Brock feel very comfortable. This just goes to show you how open they are to anybody whether or not they’ve had any experience. General Motors also makes it very easy to work your way up, as Brock has over the past couple of years to become a district sales manager. I really like how open and encouraging GM is to recruit and hiring all types of people because they want anybody with potentials of helping transform the future of mobility. Their selection process is laid out very simply and I find there to be nothing major that needs to be changed. Mostly all decisions are based off of qualifications, but they also see potential and give people chances. Westlie Brock explained to me, that through her interview process they saw potential in her ability to do the job even when she had no prior experience, therefore they gave her a shot.

Organizational Change Initiatives

The goal of all General Motors plants is to continually be changing in the hopes that the company will be more productive and efficient. The Ideal Plant Culture Project was initiated at GM to gather input from employees on organizational-culture change. Ethnographic research was then gathered from a cross-section of organizational members. This research was based off of five different questions regarding the plant culture, the study participants were able to tell stories whether positive or negative. All of this research collected was then put into one of four categories being plant environment, work force, work practices or relationships. One employee told a story of the Hoist, a machine used for raising something, and how they were having difficulties using it. Employees did not want to use the hoist because it made the job longer, harder to complete and it was old, so they needed a new one. Finally, after getting management to agree to a buy off, they were able to fix up a new and improved hoist. A story about the hoist was then written and shared during presentations with General Motors manufacturing function. Due to the hoist story, more employees were being listened to as a way to better understand and drive culture change. Because of this high level of buy in were now happening in the organization which led to the development of several “packaged products” such as collaboration tools and a story script. Which then allowed General Motors to become a lot closer to its ideal culture of being more collaborative and to be more productive and efficient.


  1. Brock, W. (2019, November 29). Personal interview.
  2. Burke, R. J. (2014). Corporate wellness programs: an overview. Corporate wellness programs: Linking employee and organizational health, 3-27.
  3. Dowling, W. F. (1975). At General Motors: System 4 builds performance and profits. Organizational Dynamics, 3(3), 23-38.
  4. Freeland, R. F. , & Granovetter, M. (2001). The struggle for control of the modern corporation: organizational change at General Motors, 1924-1970 (No. 17). Cambridge University Press.
  5. Gm. com. (2019). About GM | General Motors. [online] Available at: https://www. gm. com/our-company/about-gm. html [Accessed 13 Nov. 2019].
  6. How We Hire: GM Careers. (n. d. ). Retrieved from https://search-careers. gm. com/howwehire.
  7. Locke, E. A. (1978). The ubiquity of the technique of goal setting in theories of and approaches to employee motivation. Academy of Management Review, 3(3), 594-601.
  8. Martin, J. , & Siehl, C. (1983). Organizational culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis. Organizational dynamics, 12(2), 52-64.
  9. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, October 16). General Motors. Retrieved from https://www. britannica. com/topic/General-Motors-Corporation.
31 October 2020
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