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Workers' Behaviour in the Workplace


The word motivation is derived from the word motive’ that means desires, wants or the drives within the person. It is the procedure of prompting people to act to achieve the desired goals. The psychological components stirring the workers’ behaviour in the workplace can be: success recognition job-satisfaction teamwork desire for money, etc.The vital role of management is to build willingness amongst the workers to give their best using their abilities. Thus, the manager evokes the interest in the tasks of the employees in their work.

The method of motivation comprises of three stages:

  1. A felt need or drive
  2. A stimulus in which needs have to be aroused
  3. When needs are satisfied, the satisfaction or accomplishment of goals. (, 2018)

Employee engagement can be explained as the emotional commitment of the worker that he has towards the organisation and its goals. It means the employee care about their work and the company also. They work for the growth of the organisation or achievement of its goals rather than being self-centred as working for the paycheques or their next promotion.

When employees care”when they are engaged”they use discretionary effort. (, 2018)Motivation plays a very significant role in compelling employees towards achieving mutual goals. There are numerous theories of motivation that provide the outcomes of employees’ engagement. There are three main theory categories, namely content theories, process theories and contemporary theories (Saif, Nawaz, Jan & Khan, 2012). Generally speaking, these theories include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene (or two-factor) theory, and McClelland’s needs theory.

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(M. Badubi, 2017) Here are the theories that help to increase workplace productivity:


This theory was given by Frederick Herzberg in 1959. It is also called the Motivation-Hygiene Theory or the dual-factor theory. According to this theory, employees’ job satisfaction depends on two types of factors which are factors of satisfaction and factors of dissatisfaction. Factors of satisfaction are the motivators or the satisfiers and the factors of dissatisfaction are the hygiene factors or the dissatisfiers. The examples of motivators or satisfiers are performance, recognition, job status, responsibility and opportunities for growth. On the other hand, examples of hygiene factors or dissatisfiers are salary, secondary working conditions, the relationship with colleagues, physical workplace and the relationship between supervisor and employee. Herzberg says that these factors work on the same plane.

That means satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites. If we take the employee’s dissatisfaction away, doesn’t mean the employee will then be satisfied. It’s just the worker would no longer be dissatisfied.His theory is summarised in the chart below: Four different combinations can exist at work:1. High hygiene and high motivation: This is the ideal situation. Employees are very motivated and barely have any complaints.2. High hygiene and low motivation: Employees have few complaints, but they’re not really motivated, they see their work simply as a paycheck.3. Low hygiene and high motivation: Employees are motivated, their job is challenging, but they have complaints about salary or work conditions.4. Low hygiene and low motivation: This is the worst possible situation, employees are not motivated and have a lot of complaints.


For taking away the dissatisfactions it is important to outline the significant factors such as the complaints, the relationships among the employees. The following aspects are important: Work on the bureaucracy within the organisation Make sure there’s supportive and effective supervision Create a work environment where all employees are respected Pay an honest salary Make sure all employees do worthwhile work to build up the status of their functions Give job guarantees. When the dissatisfaction is taken away, the organisation can focus on motivating its employees effectively.


For motivation within the organisation, think about: Creating conditions for good performance Appreciating your employees’ contributions Tailoring the work to your employees’ talents and abilities Giving each team as much responsibility as possible Offering opportunities for growth within the organisation Offering training and development opportunities


The first issue with this theory is employees tend to look at the sides of their work that they like and project them onto themselves when things are going well. External factors play a larger role when the situations turn bad. Moreover, this theory assumes that job satisfaction equals higher productivity. But there are a lot of external factors that affect productivity. Herzberg didn’t take this into account while researching and coming up with his theory. (ToolsHero, 2018)


This theory was proposed by Abraham Maslow. He thought that human needs that spark of an activity can be arranged in a hierarchy of pre-potency and probability of occurrence. His theory is based on the dissatisfied need which dominates the behaviour sparking off an act for its satisfaction. When this need is satisfied, it evokes the higher need. This process is described below (Wisdom Jobs, 2018)


  1. This theory overemphasized on the subjective side rather than the objective side of motivation.
  2. The theory does not mention the proportion of need that must be satisfied to move to a higher need.
  3. The strength of needs varies in between individuals. In one individual social needs may predominate while in another actualization needs may be strongest.
  4. Maslow provided conflicting images of the self-actualized man.
  5. Maslow has over-emphasized the subjective side of motivation but he has failed to spell out clearly the objective side of motivation.
  6. Needs do not always follow a hierarchy, especially after lower level needs are satisfied.
  7. The upward movement of needs results from upward career changes and not from the satisfaction of lower-order needs.In almost all groups satisfaction of needs is definitely more or less insufficient. (, 2018)


Mc Theory X and Theory Y were initially proposed in the book The Human Side of Enterprise by McGregor. He referred to two styles of management- authoritarian (Theory X) and participative (Theory Y).If your team member doesn’t like their work and have little motivation, then, according to this theory, the authoritarian style of management is used. This involves managing people at the micro level to ensure they work efficiently. This theory is called Theory X.On the contrary, if the employees take pride in their work and assume it as a challenge, they will adopt participative management style. Managers who use this approach trust their people to take ownership of their work and do it effectively by themselves. McGregor called this Theory Y.Whichever approach you’ll use, it’ll have a considerable impression on one’s ability to motivate others. Thus, it is important to understand how your perceptions of what motivates them can shape your management style.


This style of management assumes that workers: Dislike their work. Avoid responsibility and need constant direction. Have to be controlled, forced and threatened to deliver work. Need to be supervised at every step. Have no incentive to work or ambition, and therefore need to be enticed by rewards to achieve goals.According to McGregor, organizations with a Theory X approach tend to have several tiers of managers and supervisors to oversee and direct workers. Authority is rarely delegated, and control remains firmly centralized. Managers are more authoritarian and actively intervene to get things done.


Theory Y organizations also give employees frequent opportunities for promotion. This style of management assumes that workers are: Happy to work on their own initiative. More involved in decision making. Self-motivated to complete their tasks. Enjoy taking ownership of their work. Seek and accept responsibility, and need a little direction. View work as fulfilling and challenging. Solve problems creatively and imaginatively.Theory Y has become more popular among organizations. This reflects workers’ increasing desire for more meaningful careers that provide them with more than just money.


Majority of the managers uses both Theory X and Theory Y. You may, however, find that you naturally favour one over the other. You might, for instance, have a tendency to micromanage or, conversely, you may prefer to take a more hands-off approach. Although both styles of management can motivate people, the success of each will largely depend on your team’s needs and wants and your organizational objectives.One can use Theory X of management for the beginners who need guidance, or in a situation that requires you to take control such as a crisis. However, we can’t use it when working with the experts because they take their own initiatives and demands little direction. If you did, it would likely have a demotivating effect and may even damage your relationship with them.On the other hand, both the theories have their challenges also. The nature of Theory X is bounded and can demotivate people and it can be non-cooperative if your approach is too strict. This may lead to high staff turnover and could damage your reputation in the long term. But if you go for Theory Y approach, it’ll give people too much freedom. It might allow them to stray from the main goals or lose focus. Less-motivated individuals may also take advantage of this more relaxed working environment by shirking their work. (, 2018)

Critical evaluation of Theory X and Theory Y: Five Important Limitations about Theory X & Theory Y

  1. Theory X style of management stimulates a very inhospitable and suspicious atmosphere: An authoritarian organization requires many managers just because they need to constantly control every single employee, and the method of control usually involves a fair amount of threat and coercion. At times, an employer that is overly threatening will lead to dissatisfaction among employees, or they might even attempt to blame each other in order to save themselves from the threats. Conversely, Coercion might work better with the prospects of bigger rewards for more, but employees might purposely try to cheat or attempt to hide the truth itself. Also, employees might try to sabotage the efforts of each other in order to make it easier for them to achieve the rewards.
  2. Theory Y style of management is tough to uphold in reality: The core belief of Theory Y is that with the right support and the right environment, self-directed employees will be able to perform their jobs well. However, because every individual is different from one another, creating an environment which fits all does not sound very practical in the current era of organizations.
  3. Theory X and Theory Y is very hard to be used with each other- Just because we think that utilizing different theories in order to accommodate different types of employees does not mean that it would be beneficial to the companies. In the end, the human labour of the company might be improved, but at the cost of creating monetary loses as well as the inefficient allocation of resources. For example, a company decides to use both theories together. So, in order to accommodate the need for employees who are managed based on Theory X, more employers will need to be hired and paid. The company also needs to pay and to create a comfortable environment for employees that are self-motivated based on a theory Y concept. It costs a small fortune for the company to cater to the different tastes of so many employees. It is estimated that the company spending would be high enough based on these factors alone.Therefore, it might just be more beneficial for the company to utilize a single theory and hire employees that can be consistently managed with that theory alone.
  4. Theory X and Theory Y make employment harder- Previously, I’ve said that companies should only use a single theory at once. The theory that should be used is the one that can effectively manage all employees within the organization.However, this, in turn, causes a problem during the employment process, because it is likely that a company will reject an applicant solely because he/she is not consistent with the theory that the company uses.Therefore, if companies actually follow these theories closely, it will be harder for potential candidates to get a job just because the company cannot handle their characteristics within the workplace and may give candidates that the company discriminates heavily upon its applicants.
  5. Theory X and Theory Y work on assumptions- I think organizations should be careful, and not rely too heavily on Theory X and Theory Y because there are a lot of assumptions.The workforce is changing nowadays, and the workplace is a dynamic mix of employees from different backgrounds, races and genders. Also, employees might have completely different motivations and goals for choosing to work within an organization.Nowadays, an employee from Generation X might come into the workforce from his/her previous retirement, and Generation Y employees might be wrongly perceived as slackers’ for relying more on technology to manage their meetings and make their jobs easier. There are so many other factors that influence employee behaviour within an organization in this current era, so Theory X and Theory Y may even be slightly obsolete. (, 2018)

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Workers' Behaviour in the Workplace. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from

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