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Theories of Motivation in the Workplace

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Essay title: Theories of Motivation in the Workplace

Theories of Motivation in the Workplace

At one time, in the workplace, the only type of “motivation” necessary was a command from the boss for an employee to do something (Lindner, 1998). However, times have changed and so have bosses and employees. Ever since the middle of the 20th century, various business experts and academicians have developed theories of motivation to help direct employees toward better and stronger productivity. The main theories that tend to be used in the business community are those postulated by Frederick Herzberg (theory of motivation) and Abraham Maslow (hierarchy of needs) (Gawel, 1999).

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Most motivational theories of today, whether workplace or elsewhere, were introduced by Maslow, a behavioral psychologist, who, in 1954, introduced the concept that people attempt to satisfy their personal needs through context of their work (Gawel, 1999). Maslow developed the hierarchy of needs, focusing on the idea that people do not pursue the next highest need in a hierarchy until a current, or recognized, need was completely satisfied (Gawel, 1999). The five levels Maslow introduced were physiological (food, housing and clothing); safety, social, ego, then finally, self-actualization (Lindner, 1998).

In a corporate set-up, the boss who recognizes what level of the hierarchy the employee is on will do the best job in terms of satisfying employee needs. The employee who is on the first level will be motivated primarily by the paycheck and benefits, whereas the employee who is on the social level is likely to achieve motivation through team building or a work group setting.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg, who introduced his theories in 1959, suggested that there was a “two-dimensional paradigm” when it came to factors that impacted people’s attitudes about work, noting that attributes such as a company’s policies, its supervisors, interpersonal relationships, working conditions and salary

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