Motivation Theory

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 1 November 2016

Motivation Theory


Nowadays, most companies’ goal is to maximise its profit. To do so, the component of the company must cooperate with each other. The senior (CEO and managers) must build a good relationship with the junior (employees) in order to know the thought of the employees. After understanding the thought and the needs of the workers, the next step is applying motivation theory to the employees in order to achieve the goal of the company. There are many motivation theories in managing human resources, but none is universally accepted.

Each theory has its strength and weakness. It depends on the senior thought to decide which theory they will use to motivate their workers. This essay will discuss about the content theory of Herzberg Motivation-Hygiene Theory and the process theory of Adam’s Equity Theory. It also discusses how job design can affect employee’s motivation and the similarities and differences from both theories.

Content theories

Content theories explain the needs of individuals that required individual to fulfil them, factors that motivate people in workplace and what drive people behaviour. There are four pioneers in content theory of motivation: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory, Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, Alderfer’s ERG Theory, McClelland’s Theory of Needs, and McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.

The Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Frederick Herzberg was an American psychologist and professor of management (Herzberg 1968). He was known for acquainting job enrichment and Motivation-Hygiene Theory into business management. This theory is a result from a research study made by Frederick Herzberg and his partners (Mausner & Snyderman) at the University of Pittsburgh in 1950s. Some studies do find similarities between Herzberg’s and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory which divides the need of an employee into two level, high-order needs (self-actualisation needs and esteem needs) and lower-order need (social needs, salary needs and physiological needs), but yet there is no strong evidence to support those similarities.

Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory was based on the result of the survey of 200 engineers and accountants in Pittsburgh that he made in 1950s. Each subject was asked to describe the time in their work is when they felt happy and unhappy and the description of events that give them positive and negative feeling. And as a result from the survey, Herzberg concluded that there are two-factor theory that affects an employee performance on workplace.

Satisfier or motivator on the job

What satisfies and motivates employees in workplace is called motivation factors. Each subject from the research study pointed a different factor that motivates them in workplace. As a conclusion from the survey, Herzberg concluded that there are 6 factors that motivate workers on their work. These factors related to job content; intrinsic factors that are related to workers’ work. Motivator factors leads to a higher effort, performance and satisfaction of an employee to their job. Motivation factors are required if managers want to maximise workers performance in workplace. According to Herzberg, workers will not perform maximum in their work if one of these factors are absent (Wood 2006). An absence of one of these factors can caused dissatisfaction on work. Similarly, if all the factors are present, it can cause job satisfaction (Ivancevich & Matteson 1999). These factors are similar to Maslow’s higher order need.

Based on Herzberg’s survey, the 6 factors that motivate a worker in workplace are:
* Achievement
Employee performing well on their jobs in order to achieve something such as: promotion, bonus, reward, self-esteem.
* Recognition
Employees will be more motivated if they feel they have received the appropriate recognition from company.
* Responsibility
Employees will perform maximise if they realize that they have responsibility for their work and to the company.
* Work itself
Job satisfaction will be achieve if the employees itself feels comfortable and enjoy their work itself.
* Advancement
Employees are motivated because there is promotion on their job.
* Personal growth
Employees point out that the job itself gives them a new knowledge.

Workers will get motivated when there is a reward for their work. An extra authority of the job from managers will motivated them as they realized that they have responsibility for their work. As they are more motivated for their work, their performance will improve and this will give them more skill which affect their personal growth.

Dissatisfier of hygiene factor on the job

Without hygiene factors, workers will become dissatisfied and they will not perform well on their job. Hygiene factors which include the environment of workplace do not higher the worker motivation, but they do have big influence on workers performance because without them, workers will not perform maximises.

According to Herzberg’s theory, beside a strong motivation that motivates the employees to perform maximise on their work, a comfortable and supporting workplace also affect their performance. Lambert (2008) stated that dissatisfiers are not the main cause that caused employee leaving an organisation, but they are the main causes that caused employees unhappy on their work and absenteeism.

The 8 factors that prevent dissatisfaction of workers in workplace which related to job context; the environment and extrinsic factors of the job according to Herzberg’s research:

* Company policy and administration
* Supervision
* Relationship with supervisor
* Work conditions
* Salary
* Relationship with co-workers
* Status
* Security

Process theory

Process theory provides the understanding of how thought processes of people mind influence an individual behaviour and how it motivates the individual. Two famous process theories of motivation that are known in business management are Adam’s equity theory and Vroom’s expectancy theory.

Equity theory

Equity theory is a thought where workers’ motivation is affected by the work outcomes that they receive from the company as the exchange rewards for their work. This theory was also considered as one of the justice theories because it believes that workers will be more motivated if they have received a proper treatment as they have contributed to the company. Equity theory was developed in 1963 by John Stacey Adams; a workplace and behavioural psychologist.

Workers tend to compare their efforts and performance with their co-workers. A comparison with others results to three conclusion:
* Under-rewarded: input > outcomes
* Over-rewarded: input < outcomes
* Equitably rewarded: input = outcomes

Negative inequity is a result from the unequal rewards that an employee received for the inputs that the employees have contributed to the company (Wood 2006). The following ways are you to recover negative felt inequity of an employee:

– changing inputs
– changing outcomes
– changing attitudes of the workers itself

Motivating with equity theory
To motivate workers with equity theory, managers are required to design an appropriate reward for workers. There are 3 steps in motivating workers with equity theory: * Setting rewards for workers.

* Workers make equity comparison.
* Workers’ job satisfaction and performance are affected. (Wood 2006)

How can job design affect employee’s motivation?

Job design is a process which provides way to make a planning for specific job task to ensure that the job itself is well organized. It also removes the obstacle that might obstruct the work. A proper job design will lead job satisfaction, improve employee motivation, reduced employees turnover and absenteeism (Brannick & Levine 2002).

There are four methods that are used to improve work efficiency and job satisfaction:
* Job simplification
* Job enlargement
* Job rotation
* Job enrichment

Job enrichment

Job enrichment was also introduced by Frederick Herzberg. Job enrichment is the practice of building motivating factors into job content (Wood 2006, p. 162). This strategy of job design is focusing on expanding and evaluating the employee’s tasks. This action is made to improve the work processes and environments to that the employees are satisfy and perform well on their work. Some workers might feel bored and unsatisfied with their work due to lack of a challenge, repetitive work procedures. Job enrichment makes work more challenging so that the workers are more motivated. Job enrichment is an on-going management process, so the result will affect the workers for a long time (Herzberg 2008). Because the effects are long lasting, managers should decide carefully before making decision to apply job enrichment to the workers.

There are three steps techniques to apply job enrichment to workers:
1. Turn employees’ effort into performance.
2. Link employees’ performance directly to reward.
3. Make sure the employee wants the reward.

Managers should apply job design to every worker in order to achieve job satisfaction and to avoid skills mismatch of employee and their job which will decrease the productivity level of the employee. Job design can be done by doing observation and interviews to employees to know what are their skills and needs (Hackman 1976). This will help managers to decide which job is appropriate for the workers. Job design makes workers work easier as their task has been planned and scheduled so that the obstacle that will face less obstacle during their work.


Both Adam’s Equity Theory and Herzberg’s motivation factors believes that one of the factors that affects worker’s performance is the payoff that they received from the company as a payment for their contribution to the company. If they feel that they have received unequal payoff for their hard work, they will not perform well and this tend to make them decrease their work performance. The reward can be in form of bonus, promotion, and reward. There are two types of rewards that can boost workers’ performance: intrinsic rewards and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are rewards that are part of the job itself and it can increases personal satisfaction and self-esteem and is self-rewarded.

Some example of intrinsic rewards is: feedback, responsibility, praise or rewards that are self-administered. Extrinsic rewards are rewards external from the job, i.e., bonus, promotion, awards, pays, days off. Frederick Herzberg founds out that intrinsic rewards are stronger than extrinsic rewards because rewards like money tend to be “zero out”. If a worker always get praise by their manager or co-workers which increase the personal satisfaction, this will keep motivated them to perform well and as the payoff is, they get more bonus from the company. To sum up, intrinsic rewards may lead to extrinsic rewards.


Based on Herzberg’s research survey, most of the factors which can lead to workers dissatisfaction are related to work environment. The condition of workplace environment is very influential to worker performance because if the workers feel uncomfortable with the environment workplace, they will not perform well on their work (Locke 1976). As an example, a workplace without any fan or air conditioner will make workers cannot focus maximise as the temperature is hot. While Adam’s Equity Theory only claims that workers’ performance is affected by the outcome that they received from the company.

Brannick, M. T. and Levine, E. L., 2002. Job analysis. CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Hackman, J. R. 1976. Work design. Santa Monica, CA: Goodyear. Herzberg, F. 1968. One more time: how do you motivate employees?. Harvard Business Review, vol. 46(1), pp. 53–62. Herzberg, F., 2008. One more time: how do you motivate employees?. Harvard Business Review, 65(5), pp.109-120. Ivancevich, J. M. and Matteson, M. T., 1999. Organizational behaviour and management. 5th ed. Singapore: McGraw-Hill Book Co. Lambert, L., 2008. Exit stage right. HRMonthly, February Issue, pp. 28-31. Locke, 1976. Organizational behavior: affect in the workplace. Annual Review of Psychology, 53, p. 282. Wood, J. et al., 2006. Organisational behaviour core concepts and applications. Milton Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 1 November 2016

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