Name 6

Motivationtheories that increase employee productivity

Theconcept of motivation has gained the popularity, especially in thework and educational settings. Employers and educators use differentstrategies to motivate employees and students with the objective ofenhancing their performance. The term motivation refers to factorsthat compel people to strive to achieve some targets or carryout outsome actions (Pakdel 241). Social scientists and theorists have beenstudying the concept of motivation in order to identify the keyfactors that motivate people and how these factors affect humanbehavior. Motivation is measured by assessing individual’sinclination to a given behavior after being exposed to motivationalfactors. Theorists seek to explain how extrinsic and intrinsicfactors influence human behavior. This paper will provide theanalysis of five theories (including Hertzberg’s two-factor theory,Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, three-dimensional theory ofattribution, expectancy theory, and Locke’s Goal theory) ofmotivation that can be applied in the workplace to inspire employees.The paper will consider an overview of each theory and how it can beapplied by employers.

Overviewof the motivation theories

Theconcept of motivation can be traced back to the times of greatphilosophers, such as Plato and Socrates. These philosophers upheldthe components of emotion, rational, and dietary. For example,Aristotle held that people could be motivated by physical pleasure(food), growth, and sensory experience (Pakdel 240). The ancientphilosophers focused on irrational forces of motivation. Active andinactive aspects of human motivation were distinguished in the modernera by philosophers, such as Rene Descartes. During the modern era,philosophers considered the body to be an inactive factor thatcontributes to human motivation while the concept of will serves asthe active aspect of motivation. The purposeful will is determined bythe moral, intellectual, and mental nature of the mind. Mechanistictheories dominated the field of motivation until the 1960s, whentheorists started exploring the cognitive aspects. Modern theoristsconsider human beings as active explorers of the interests, values,goals, and choices. Current theorists and scholars focus on factorsthat lead to intrinsic motivation of people as well as theconsequences that follow.

TheHertzberg’s two-factor theory

Thetheory was developed by Fredrick Herzberg between the 1950s and1960s, with the objective of studying factors that motivateemployees. Herzberg’s main focus was to determine the impact thatattitude has on one’s motivation. These factors can be easilyidentified by requiring the members of staff to mention and describesituations in which they feel really bad or good about their work(Tecj-Hong 75). After conducting a study on 200 engineers andaccountants to identify the factors that inspired employees, Herzbergfound out that things that affect the morale of members of staff canbe grouped into two. The first category is comprised of the motivatorfactors, including items that increase or decrease the level ofemployee satisfaction or motivation. These factors include arecognition, ability to enjoy work, and opportunities for careerprogression. The second category is comprised of hygiene factors thatresult in the decline in motivation and satisfaction in case they areabsent. Hygiene factors include benefits, company policies, and therelationship with the coworkers.

Althoughhygiene and motivator factors influence the motivation of humanbeings, they operate independently and in different directions. Forexample, the presence of motivators enhances employee satisfactionand motivation, but their absence does not necessarily mean that theywill feel dissatisfied (Tecj-Hong 76). Similarly, hygiene factorsenhance satisfaction and motivation when they are present, but theirabsence does not lead to the dissatisfaction of employees. In somecases, addressing the key factors that limit the motivation ofemployees may reduce their dissatisfaction, but fail to inspire them.Therefore, dissatisfaction and satisfaction are two different things,which imply that eliminating one of them does not automatically usherin the other one.

Thetheory of Hertzberg’s two-factor can be applied in the worksettings by enhancing both the hygiene and motivator factors. Forexample, an employer can enhance employee motivation by appreciatingand providing support that help them accomplish the work-relatedgoals (Tecj-Hong 76). This helps employees develop a perception thattheir presence in the organization is valuable and their employerrecognizes their contribution. By providing a suitable workingcondition and providing supporting relationship with the members ofstaff, an employer can limit employee dissatisfaction. However,employers should recognize that different people are motivated anddemoralized by different factors. An individual who intends tomotivate a group of people have the responsibility of analyzing thekey aspect that inspire each one of them individually since theapplication of the same set of motivators and hygiene factors may notwork for all of them. In addition, Hertzberg’s theory should beapplied in two phases in order to have reasonable outcomes. The firststage should involve screening and elimination of all factors thatlimit the motivation of the members of staff. In the second stage,the employer should apply the factors that boost the motivation ofthe members of staff. The two-stage implementation process impliesthat aspects that limit the inspiration of employees should beeliminated before, they can be motivated.

Maslow’shierarchy of needs

Thistheory was developed in 1943 by Abraham Maslow. The theory is foundedon the assumption that the basic needs of an individual in the lowerlevel should be satisfied before the needs in the higher level can beaddressed (Jerome 41). The term “hierarchy” is used in the theoryto imply that human needs can be ranked in a chronological way, suchthat the needs in the lower level are met before those in thesubsequent levels. In addition, Maslow’s theory is founded on theassumption that people have systems of motivation that are notrelated to their unconscious desires and rewards. Maslow assumed thatthe desire to satisfy needs in an upper hierarchy motivates peopleand help them keep working hard. In addition, the level of motivationto satisfy unmet needs increases with the duration that it takesbefore those wants can be addressed. For an instant, hunger increasesand the desire to eat food tend to increase with the time in which anindividual spends without taking food.

Initially,Maslow’s theory was based on a hierarchy comprised of a set of fiveneeds, but it was revised to include three more levels. The firstlevel in the hierarchy is comprised of biological as well asphysiological needs. These needs include food, shelter, sex, drink,sleep, and air (Jerome 42). On the second level, human beings desireto meet needs like security, protection from law, achieve order, andstability. On the third level, people desire to achieve belongingnessand love, which is characterized by different factors, includingintimacy, love, friendship, and affection in all settings. On thefourth level, esteem needs, individual strive to satisfy a series ofneeds, such as mastery, self-esteem, dominance, independence,managerial responsibility, and dominance (Jerome 43). The fifthlevel, cognitive needs, is characterized by individuals desire toachieve understanding and knowledge, exploration, curiosity,predictability, and meaning. In the sixth stage, aesthetic needs,people work hard to attain appreciation, balance, beauty, and form.The seventh stage involves self actualization, where an individualstrives to realize personal potential, growth, self-fulfillment, andpeak experience. Lastly, individuals who have achievedself-actualization start pursuing transcendence needs.

Employerswho wish to apply the Maslow’s theory in their work settings focuson helping their employees understand the significance of theirroles. In addition, an employer should comprehend the current set ofneeds that each employee needs to address or the level in which theyare at a given moment. For example, a bonus can be issued toemployees who are in the fourth stage since it fulfill the esteemneeds while the basic wage, which should be offered to members ofstaff in the second phase, enhance employee security (Jerome 43). Theemployer should play the critical role of helping employees move upthe hierarchy by meeting the needs in one level before moving to thesubsequent phase. The aspect of motivation is achieved when employeesdevelop the urge to work harder in order to address professional aswell as personal needs.

Thethree-dimensional theory of attribution

Theattribution theory was developed by Bernard Weiner in the 1930s withthe objective of explaining the underlying factors that determine whypeople engage in different activities or behave in a manner that theydo. The theory is founded on an assumption that people have thetendency to determine causes of a given behavior or event (Harvey147). The reasons that people attribute to certain behaviors motivatethem to behave in a way that will help them do better. For example,an employee who misses a promotion may attribute such an event to thelack of adequate qualification, laziness at work, or poorperformance. The three factors can motivate such as employee to reactin different ways. For example, employees who feel that they do nothave any qualification that can justify their promotion can decide toadvance their academic qualification while those who attribute thesame event to poor performance may choose to dedicate more time tojob-related tasks. In this case, the two employees have beenmotivated by different attributes in different ways.

Thereare three key dimensions that are used to characterize attributions.The first dimension is stability, which refers to the possibility ofthe attribution to change with time (Harvey 148). An individual islikely to receive a higher level of motivation when the underlyingattribution is less stable. For example, an employee may considerlaziness to be an unstable attribute of an event of lack ofpromotion, which can motivate them to work harder.

Thesecond dimension is the locus of control, which is based on thenotion that human behavior is motivated by external factors(including fate and luck) and internal factors (such as effort andability) (Harvey 147). Victory that is directly attributed tointernal attributes serve as the source of pride. Failure that isdirectly attributed to internal causes serves as the source ofdisappointment.

Thethird dimension is controllability, which refers to the assessment ofwhether an individual has the ability to take some control over agiven behavior or situation. The level of motivation depends onperception that one has about the possibility of taking control overtheir future behavior. A high perception that employees can changetheir behavior motivates them to work hard and achieve positiveoutcomes (Harvey 148).

Employerscan use the theory of attribution to motivate the members of staff byhelping them understand that they can enhance their performance.Employers should use their skills to ensure that their employees donot attribute their poor performance or failure to innate lack ofknowledge. They should focus on motivating employees understand thatvictory and better performance is a controllable variable that can beachieved through hard work (Harvey 147). For example, an employer canhelp employees attribute their failure to the use of the wrongmethodology and not the lack of skills. This can motivate theemployees to select the right methodology in the future in order toachieve a better performance.


Theexpectancy theory was advanced by Victor Vroom in the 1960s. Thetheory holds that people are motivated to adopt certain acts andbehaviors by their possible outcomes. When developing this theory,Vroom assumed that human behavior originates from conscious choicesthat are made out of alternatives whose primary purpose is to reducepain and maximize pleasure (Simone 19). The performance of anindividual employee is based on the level of skills, knowledge, andpersonality. The three aspects determine how individual employeesperceive rewards that they are likely to get by adopting certainbehaviors. For example, employees who have been promised that theywill be promoted if they work hard tend to develop a perception thatpromotion is highly likely to occur compared to the members of staffwho assumed that they would be rewarded in case they added someefforts in their work.

Vroomheld that effort, performance of an individual, and motivation toachieve certain goals can be associated with the person’smotivation. This is demonstrated with the help of three variables.First, expectancy is a variable within the expectancy theory holdingthat any increase in employee’s effort will translate into a risein performance. However, the realization of this expectation isinfluenced by several factors, including the availability of adequateresources, possession of the appropriate skills, and support that oneneeds to accomplish job-related tasks (Simone 19). The level ofexpectancy is also influenced by the previous experience, perceiveddifficulty of achieving a given goal, and the level of confidence.

Thesecond element is the instrumentality, which refers to a belief thatan employee will receive some valuable rewards by meeting performanceexpectations. The valuable performance may be given in the form ofpromotion, a pay increase, or the employee sense of expectation. Thisrelationship is affected by a clear understanding of the associationbetween outcome and performance trust that one has in people who arelikely to determine whether the expected performance has beenachieved and policies that guide the correlation between outcome andperformance (Simone 19). The last element of the expectancy theory isvalence, which refers to the value that an individual employee placeson a reward. For example, an employee who is motivated by money maynot attach value to a time off.

Employersapply the theory of expectancy by setting goals that are achievablefor their employees and providing appropriate rewards. Employersshould be able to select the types of rewards that are actuallyneeded by employees, given that different people derive theirmotivation from different factors (Simone 20). Extrinsic forms ofmotivation (such as the bonus) may be used to motivate employees whovalue material items, while intrinsic sources (such asacknowledgement) can be used to inspire those who feel attracted tonon-material items.

Locke’sGoal theory

Thistheory was advanced by Edwin Locke, who held that human behavior isaffected by two cognitive factors, including the intentions andvalues. Value is an emotional component of motivation that createsthe desire to do things consistently and enhance performance. Goalsdirect intention and actions. The theory holds that employees areeffectively motivated by goals. It is based on an assumption thatpre-determined goals challenge the members of staff, which motivatesthem to work hard in order to achieve the targets (Lunenburg 1).However, the tendency of employees to strive in order to meet theirtargets dependents on whether the employer provides them withsupport, necessary resources, and feel satisfied with the performanceas well as the reward. The process of setting goals inspires themembers of staff to bring out a higher level of performance anddesire to set goals that are more challenging than the previous ones. A high level of motivation is achieved when employees are given achance to take part in the process of setting goals (Lunenburg 2).These employees feel empowered, which increases their willingness toachieve the goals. Moreover, the goals should pose a significantchallenge, be clear, involve task complexity, attract employeecommitment, and create room for management’s feedback. This impliesthat employers should not only facilitate the participation ofemployees in the process of goal setting, but they also maintain thequality of those targets.


Theoriesof motivation help the scholars explain how intrinsic as well asextrinsic factors affect human behavior. Human beings feel motivatedby different factors, which imply that employers or educators shouldidentify specific aspects that are likely to inspire each member ofstaff or a leaner. According to Hertzberg’s the two-factor theorythe level of motivation and satisfaction is determined by aspectsthat are put into two groups, including the motivators and hygienicfactors. Maslow’s theory rank human needs into eight categories,whereby an individual is expected to address needs in one levelbefore seeking to meet those in the subsequent hierarchy. Under thetheory of attribution, human motivation is affected by three factors,including the level of stability of the cause, locus of control, andthe controllability of an attribute. The expectancy theory holds thatpeople feel motivated to engage in certain activities by what theyexpected to get at the end. The Locke’s goal theory, on the otherhand, holds that people are motivated by the goals that they intendto achieve. However, the employees should be engaged in the processof formulating the goals. In addition, the quality of the goalsshould be maintained in order to ensure that they are motivating innature.


Harvey,P. and Martinko, J. Attributiontheory and motivation.Burlington: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC, 2012. Print.

Jerome,N. “Application of the Maslow’s hierarchy of need history theory:Impacts and applications on organizational culture, human resourceand employee’s performance”. InternationalJournal of Business and Management Invention2.3 (2013): 39-45. Print.

Lunenburg,C. “Goal-setting theory of motivation”. International Journal ofManagement, Business, and Administration 15.1 (2011): 1-6. Pakdel, B.“The historical context of motivation and analysis theoriesindividual motivation”. InternationalJournal of Humanities and Social Science3.18 (2013): 240-247. Print.

Simone,S. “Expectancy value theory: Motivating health care workers”.InternationalJournal of Contemporary Research5.2 (2015): 19-23.

Tecj-Hong,T. and Waheed, A. “Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory and jobsatisfaction in the Malaysian retail sector: The mediating effect oflove of money”. AsianAcademy of Management Journal16.1 (2011): 73-94. Print.