Drawing on older theories of motivation such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Herzberg's two-factor theory, and newer theories such as expectancy and equity theories, HR managers can gain insight into what might motivate employees to do their best work. Read this section to see how these theories can be used.
Psychologist Abraham Maslow's hierarchy-of-needs theory proposed that we are motivated by the five unmet needs, arranged in the hierarchical order shown in Figure 7.3 "Maslow's Hierarchy-of-Needs Theory", which also lists examples of each type of need in both the personal and work spheres of life. Look, for instance, at the list of personal needs in the left-hand column. At the bottom are physiological needs (such life-sustaining needs as food and shelter). Working up the hierarchy we experience safety needs (financial stability, freedom from physical harm), social needs (the need to belong and have friends), esteem needs (the need for self-respect and status), and self-actualization needs (the need to reach one's full potential or achieve some creative success).
Figure 7.3 Maslow's Hierarchy-of-Needs Theory
There are two things to remember about Maslow's model:
- We must satisfy lower-level needs before we seek to satisfy higher-level needs.
- Once we've satisfied a need, it no longer motivates us; the next higher need takes its place.
Needs Theory and the Workplace
What implications does Maslow's theory have for business managers? There are two key points: (1) Not all employees are driven by the same needs, and (2) the needs that motivate individuals can change over time. Managers should consider which needs different employees are trying to satisfy and should structure rewards and other forms of recognition accordingly. For example, when you got your first job repossessing cars, you were motivated by the need for money to buy food. If you'd been given a choice between a raise or a plaque recognizing your accomplishments, you'd undoubtedly have opted for the money. As a state senator, by contrast, you may prefer public recognition of work well done (say, election to higher office) to a pay raise.