Equity Theory and Employee Motivation

Equity Theory and Employee Motivation

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Equity Theory and Employee Motivation

In the workplace, employees need the motivation to perform better. Motivation may be extrinsic or intrinsic. According to Abraham Maslow’s motivation theory, the motivation to satisfy basic needs is what guides human beings. However, these needs are arranged in a given hierarchy by their importance and urgency. According to Maslow, the lowest level of needs is satisfied first, then a higher one, until all needs are satisfied (Pinder, 2014).

Applying the same concept in a working environment, managers need to understand the aspects of employee motivation. The needs accrue in the following hierarchy, physiological, security, social acceptance, Self-esteem, and self-actualization. The physiological needs include such aspects as having a good salary and a stable employment (Films Media Group & TV Choice Productions, 2016). When it comes to security needs, employees need to feel that they are safe in the environment that they work. Secondly, they have benefits, fair work practices, and pension. Lussier & Achua (2016), outlines that without the social part of it, employees are not motivated. Therefore, social acceptance, for example, cooperation from others and friendliness is important. The aspect of the self image, recognition, and respect motivates the employee through boosting their self-esteem. Self-actualization is marked by such aspects as work autonomy.

In a bid to develop a motivated workforce, the Equity theory has to be employed. Understanding the theory helps the employer understand how organizational and personal values influence motivation. Employees put to consideration the input that they put in an organization and the quality of the outcomes and compare it to the compensation they get. They go further to compare it to the input and output of others and gauge the level of equity (Pinder, 2014). If the two do not balance, then motivation is lost. Also, they also compare themselves to others whom they think are treated better than them. As a result, ensuring that equity is enhanced is crucial to avoid the feeling of segregation on some employees. This is because the Equity theory outlines that people tend to form beliefs and opinions about others.

All these perceptions on equity motivate people to demand equity in an organization. Some employees start thinking that they should be paid more than others with the argument that their input is more significant. Others argue that their output is of more quality than that of others and thus should be paid higher. The aspect of fairness is what motivates people. The identification of inequities in the input and output ratios of themselves in comparison to others leads to motivation in search for equity based on their skill level, expertise, and hard work (Lussier & Achua, 2016). These aspects have to be balanced with the outputs which include benefits, salary, and acceptance among others.


Films Media Group, & TV Choice Productions. (2016). Motivation Theories and Employee Participation. (Films on Demand.

Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2016). Leadership: Theory, application & skill development.

Pinder, C. C. (2014). Work motivation in organizational behavior. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor, and Francis.

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