psy 320 week 2 individual assignment – Motivational Theories

Motivational Theories


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Motivational Theories

Most employees in any organization need to be motivated to feel good about their jobs for them to perform optimally (Watkins, 2009). Every employee is motivated in a different way, and by different factors. Some are motivated by money, others will be motivated by recognition and rewards while others are find more jobs motivating. The levels of motivation within the context of a workplace have direct impacts on the productivity of the employees. Those who are excited and motivated about their jobs carry out their responsibilities to the best of their ability and production numbers increase as a result. The job of a manager in the workplace is to get things done through employees. To achieve this, the manager should be able to motivate their employees.The theories for employee motivation as suggested include:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

It is believed that that the needs of an individual could be expressed in the form of a hierarchy of needs or a pyramid. This theory of motivation can be applied to the workplace as well as other scenarios. This Idea was propagated by Abraham Maslow, who felt that the most basic needs were physiological (Beck, 2004). Unless an individual has food and shelter, Maslow believed it was pointless trying to motivate them at a higher level. The same applies in the workplace; if employees are not comfortable in their work environment, then motivation at a higher level will be difficult.Once this need is met, the employee is then motivated to gain a sense of security. In a difficult economic climate, do you as a manager keep your employees sufficiently informed of their job prospects, or is there a heavy reliance on the grapevine?

When a job is felt to be reasonably secure, the employee is next motivated by social aspects. Do you foster a good working atmosphere in your workplace? Is there a strong sense of teamwork? Do employees communicate in lots of different ways?When a good social network is in place, the employee then looks for a feeling of self-esteem. When your employees do a good job, is it noticed? Do you have reward systems in place? Do you give lots of positive feedback? Finally, when all the other factors are in place, the employee is looking for self-fulfillment. Do your employees have opportunities to learn and grow at work? Do you provide training opportunities, work on project teams, job transfers?

Herzberg’s two factor theory

Herzberg came up with one of the more popular motivation theories. He felt that certain conditions, or ‘hygiene factors’, had to be in place for employees to be satisfied, but these did not necessarily motivate the employees. For example, if an employee is working below the minimum wage, it is not likely that he/she will be motivated until a perceived fair rate of pay is given. At the same time, if an employee is well paid, Herzberg believed that a pay rise would not have a lasting motivational effect. Herzberg suggested that once the hygiene factors were met, employers should focus on recognizing the achievements of the employee and providing opportunities to learn and grow. So the motivation theories of Maslow and Herzberg were similar in this regard.

Expectancy theory of motivation

Expectancy theory of motivation emphasizes the mental processes regarding choice, or choosing. It looks at self -interest in the alignment of rewards with people’s wants and the connections among expected behaviors, rewards and organizational goals.

For organizations, it helps them to relate rewards directly to performance and to ensure that the rewards provided are those rewards deserved and wanted by the recipients.

Some of the uses of these theories include:-


An incentive is a motivating influence that is designed to drive behavior and motivate employees to be produce quality work. Employers use several types of incentives to increase production numbers. Employee incentives come in a variety of forms including paid time off, bonuses, cash and travel perks. Incentives drive employee motivation because they offer workers more to strive for than a regular paycheck.

Establish a Clear Career Path

Every employee has a dream. That may include a beautiful house, a nice car and a great career. For an employee to stay motivated, he has to be educated on the potential for their career path, of the steps that must be taken to achieve it, of the responsibilities that must be shouldered to go up the career ladder and put get into a better compensation package. With this thought, an employee will be better motivated throughout his stay with the Company.

Mentoring is both a direct and indirect process. A direct process would be to explain the task, of the functions and ways to go about performing his work smoothly. An indirect approach would be about setting a good example, of being a role model that everyone can look up to. In other words, to perform functions necessary in establishing oneself as a true leader of the company. This way, employees could be motivated to follow in the leader’s footsteps.


Every employee wants to feel that their boss is accessible for them. They want their leader to be around to help them with their problems. For practical reasons, it’s quite hard for any executive to be around all the time. The next best solution is to have a feedback system. This feedback system could be in the form of suggestion boxes or electronic mailbox; it could also take the form of open-door management or simply management by walking-around, and asking “how can I help you do for job better.”

Recognition can go a long way. Every individual wants to be recognized for their efforts and this will help them in staying motivated. This recognition may come in the form of a pat in the back, a note or simply an e-mail. If the achievement is simply too big for just a token, a simple rite or award may also be considered.

Fun Environment

Everyone wants to work in a fun environment. But what does “fun environment” entail? It covers two things: the essentials and the excess. The essentials basically cover comfortable desks and chairs, appropriate size of the work areas and availability of supplies and storage cabinets. The excess on the other hand, covers gimmicks like wearing of jeans or casuals on Fridays, pizza lunches or simply just a token like a special parking space for one who drives the hardest.

One of the least used theories of motivation today is the Expectancy theory. It is concerned more about the individuals making their own choices and decisions (especially the ones that touch on them directly). Since an employee’s performance is based on individual factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities, the organization should try to adjust along those lines, by making sure that the employees’ duties and responsibilities are aligned with their skills, so that they do not stretch beyond their limits to perform. For this to be realized, there are some factors that need to be kept constant, because the performance of the employee is dependent on such factors. These include Raw materials, good working conditions, the right skills etc. The other theory that needs to be utilized more is the Herzberg’s hygiene factors. This is because they are the only set of rules of theories that spell out what satisfies the employee against what causes dissatisfaction to them. When an organization will focus on the latter more seriously, it will help the organization be more focused. This is because the organization will tend to focus more on what is important and necessary for the organization, at the expense of that which is not helpful, and could be a baggage to the organization. It helps the company value their employees, and give them a sense of worthiness that propels them to higher productivity. In other words, these theories implemented will see a happier and a more satisfied labor force in the organization, which is not only a good thing to humanity, but generally contributes to a wellbeing of an employee, which ultimately translates to improved and more production. The management will also be affected financially since the implementation of these theories is expensive, and cost incurrence is one of the things that might affect the management.

At the end of the day, a happier employee is a productive employee, which is also gain to the organization as a whole.


Watkins, R. (2009). Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace, Volume 2,

The Handbook of Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions (1., Auflage ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Beck, R. (2004). Motivation: Theories and principles (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.:

Pearson/Prentice Hall.

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