Theories of Motivation and Their Application to Different Workplace Settings

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 2
Words: 605
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

In the contemporary business world, competition is very high, which increases the value of human capital and talent in the workplace. Performance excellence is the key goal that leads to company profitability and industry dominance. To ensure that employees contribute their best talents and skills to accomplish organizational goals, leadership needs to motivate the workforce effectively. The abundance of theories of motivation that exist in professional literature helps employers and enterprises choose the most appropriate ones to meet their goals. This discussion board post will discuss the main ideas of motivation and identify one that is most applicable to different workplace settings.

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There are several theories of motivation, each addressing employee performance reinforcement differently. Firstly, Maslow’s Needs Theory holds that for a person to be motivated for self-actualization, the highest rank in the hierarchy of needs, their physiological, safety, social, and esteem needs, should be met (Badubi, 2017). Thus, the work environment should be organized in a way that satisfies basic human needs, which will motivate employees to be productive and creative. Secondly, Theory X and Theory Y are two intertwined theories of motivation, both implying that business management is responsible for meeting all employee needs. On the one hand, Theory X denotes that human beings are inherently exposed to negative behavior, so management should decrease such behaviors through control and punishment (Badubi, 2017). On the other hand, Theory Y is based on the belief that positive behaviors are inherent to humans, which is why they should be reinforced through the meeting of higher-level needs for motivation.

Thirdly, the Achievement-Power-Affiliation Theory is based on the assumption that people are motivated by the challenge. In particular, when tasked with difficult assignments that require high-level skills and determination, employees are more likely to draw on their inner longing to succeed, which is reinforced by managerial feedback. Fourthly, the Expectancy Theory approaches motivated behavior from the perspective of measuring the multiple variables influencing employee choices of actions (Shanthi & Sharma, 2019). Fifthly, the Equity Theory “postulates that employees will weigh their input into a job against the output they receive from it – the more the rewards, the greater their satisfaction” (Badubi, 2017, p. 47). This theory is based on the principle of fairness used by management to construct a motivational working environment. Finally, Theory Z defines motivation as a phenomenon that occurs under two conditions. In particular, “each individual should know the organizational goals and contribute his attempts to the accomplish it, and each individual should be confident that the realization of the organizational goals has a satisfaction positively” (Shanthi & Sharma, 2019, p. 8). Thus, employees should align employee benefits and company goals to yield motivation in workers.

While all of the addressed theories of motivation provide a substantial theoretical explanation and the basis for practical application, one seems best applicable and universal. Among the discussed theories, Maslow’s Needs Theory appears to make the most sense due to its accuracy and ease of implementation. In particular, the concise and exact differentiation between the five levels of needs makes it easy for employers to target the desired behavior through the satisfaction of lower-level needs. Employees in a company that follow this theory are most likely to be satisfied with their jobs and be accomplished and motivated individuals. Moreover, Needs Theory implies a holistic approach to organizing the workspace and organizational environment to prioritize human physiological, safety, social, and esteem needs. They might be addressed through adequate space organizing, a reasonable reward system, security payments, professional development opportunities, and community building. In response to these elements, employees will be ready for self-actualization and creativity, which will yield productivity.


Badubi, R. M. (2017). Theories of motivation and their application in organizations: A risk analysis. International Journal of Innovation and Economic Development, 3(3), 44-51.

Shanthi, R., & Sharma, J. D. (2019). Conceptual model on skill – Gap theory of motivation. SIMSARC. European Alliance for Innovation.