The Hierarchy Of Needs Theory Business Essay

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This literature offers the prominence of motivation among employees all over the world, but for the purpose of this study, the staff of the guaranty trust bank of Nigeria, it will also assess the past and the current view on motivation using theoretical frameworks. For example, looking at the past view of motivation through the view of Taylor which is the traditional view of motivation which stated that money is the main motivating factor that makes employees perform well in their work, that workers will be motivated by obtaining high wages when they work in a productive way, however, that may not be the case in reality in countries like Nigeria where uncertainty trails daily endeavours.

To begin with, Kretiner (1998) explains that the terminology of 'motivation' was deduced from 'movere', a Latin word which is translated as 'to move' or 'to instigate'. In addition, Mitchell (1982:81) posits that "motivation is resultant of psychological mechanisms which stimulates purpose, direction and persistence of certain deliberate behaviour which is always aimed towards achieving a purpose". From the view of Baron (1991), motivation is underpinned by a number of core drivers which are responsible for activating, directing and sustaining a particular behavioural pattern. Robbins (1993) & Robbins (2001) also defined motivation as a willing state of mind whereby a person readily commits to increasing his or her amount of participatory effort in attaining organizational set aims and objectives. These increased efforts by employees are meant to provide additional satisfaction for their unattended needs.

By and large, in the study of motivation by (Mullins, 2005), He posits that motivation is fundamentally about why people behave the way they do. Mullins, (2005) further explains that the term motivation is characterised by complex dynamics because, behavioural patterns are diverse amongst personals. For instance motivational factors are often dependent on personal prevailing circumstances, and as such needs and wants are bound to vary. To buttress this point, Kretiner (1998) also points out that people have different needs and expectations therefore there are tendencies for them to react in different ways to their job expectations and organisation's norms and practices. This implies that there are no 'off shelve' solutions as to what motivational strategies an organisation can adopt to suit every employee because, what motivates one may demotivate others. Beardwell & Claydon (2007) are of the assumption that when people are happy with their working conditions, there is a possibility of increased performance and productivity; hence, the organisation will be at an advantageous position to offer high quality products and services in a bid to attain competitive advantage.

More so, Mitchell (1982), defines motivation as the 'extent to which a person decides to engage in particular behavioural pattern, he also identified a number of common motivational characteristics to arrive at a better understanding, which are as follows; Firstly of all he mentioned that, motivation is an individual phenomenon, which explains why every person is unique in their own ways. This phenomenon is also demonstrated in all of the motivational theories. Secondly, motivation is voluntary and intentional, this statement suggests that motivational behaviours are as a result of actions whereby individuals opt on which behaviours they display as a result of such actions. Also, the intentional aspect of motivations reflects purpose for which organisations or employers wishes to motivate employees at work. Thirdly, motivation is complex, for an organisation to successfully motivate all or most of its employees, there will be a need to pay careful attention 3to the design stage, taking into account a cafeteria bouquet whereby employees are open to meaningful and limited options. It is important to note that Mitchell (1982), mentioned that managing such bouquet are also as complex as offering them. The fourth point identifies that motivational theories are aimed at predicting behavioural patterns, hence may be easily confused as basis to determine an individual's behaviour motivation is all about actions and the forces that influence it. `

Interestingly, Armstrong (2006) brings to mind that, factors that are considered motivators could also serve as same factors that demotivate, depending on individuals and their prevailing circumstance

The reasons for choosing this subject area is basically because of my interest in it and the fact that this particular area of study has been totally neglected by many organisations in Africa especially Nigeria which is my home country. Again, this subject area will increase my knowledge in human resource.


There are numerous theories which throws more light to an in-depth understanding of motivation. As such these theorists have provided frameworks that managers adopt in recent times in order to gain useful knowledge on how best to motivate employees at work. According to Mullins (2005) these theories are broken down into; content theories of motivation and process theories of motivation. Content theories deal with recognizing that people have needs as well as identifying what exactly these needs are, and also how they can satisfy such needs. On the other hand, process theories as the name implies deals with the actual motivation processes, this encompasses attainment of behavioural change in the interest of both employer and employee and also sustaining such changes (Mullins, 2005). For the purpose of this literature review, Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory will be discussed as a content theory. While, Hygiene theory and Equity theory for the process theories.


The hierarchy of needs theory was developed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Maslow (1943) proposed that motivation is dependent on a number of needs. When these needs are arranged in a hierarchy or in terms of priority, people's needs are classified as higher order needs and lower order needs.

Source: Hollyforde & Whiddett (2002)

Figure 2.1: Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory

Figure 2.2 is an illustration of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The higher order needs consist of the following needs: self-actualization needs such as; personal growth and career development. Esteem needs includes; status and self-respect. Belonging/love needs includes; family and social group. While, the lower order needs comprises of physiological needs which are feeding and upkeep. Safety needs are catering for shelter, warmth and all house hold bills (Maslow, 1943). By and large, it is assumed that lower order needs must be satisfied before higher order needs can be attained, bearing in mind that lower order needs are usually concerned basic necessities of existence (Kretiner, 1998).


The hygiene theory now popularly referred to as the two factor theory was firstly introduced by Hertzberg in 1959 which was later developed upon in the later. According to Miner (2007), Herzberg as humanist integrated his work into behavioural management. Herzberg (1959) in Miner (2007) grounded his theory based on the fact of job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction. Miner (2005) explains that; Job satisfaction is as a result of a worker's sense of achievement, recognition (both verbal and physical), the work itself, advancement (growth and promotion) and responsibility. While job dissatisfaction are basically grounded upon the all of the prevailing circumstance and conditions under which the actual work is done. These factors include; organisation's culture, policy and practices. Others include; management style and supervision, interpersonal relations, physical working conditions, benefits, salaries and extent of job security. These factors responsible for job dissatisfaction. Therefore, Herzberg (1987) insists that when these hygiene factors are either, removed, reduced to minimal or properly managed, the challenge of job dissatisfaction may be overcome, hence creating an atmosphere of increased productivity. (Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman, 1959) elaborates that it is not enough to only rid of hygiene factors, organisations will have to ensure that right motivators are put in place if it expects a long term result, this is because hygiene seekers are high risk, and there are tendencies that their appetite will grow beyond the hygiene basics.

According to Miner (2007), to counter job dissatisfaction and reduced job performance, organisations must ensure that there is enough focus on intrinsic benefits on the job functions itself, to achieve this, there should be structure in place whereby the amount of work done can me measure. This gives a sense of achievement to employees. Also, there is need for mangers to deal with the hygiene factors. For example, paid bonuses, awards and competitive salaries are recommendable. In spite of the assumption that extrinsic pay is considered a hygiene factor, it can also be strategically used as a source motivation. In summary, Herzberg (1987) proposed that pay is mostly associated to job dissatisfaction than job satisfaction because pay has a longer term effect on job dissatisfaction than it does on job satisfaction. Finally, managers should create an avenue for a healthy employment relationship whereby employee can actually become part of decision making which is beneficial to both bodies. This medium will enable employees and employers alike to be well represented whereby opinions are aired and subsequently decided upon in mutual interest.


The equity theory of motivation is grounded on the assumption that when two parties or more enter into an association with each other (for instance; employer-employee relationship), both parties compare and contrast their conditions with that of their fellow colleagues both in house and externally to ensure equity and fairness of their terms and conditions of association. According to (Armstrong, 2007) view on equity theory, employees tend to compare their performance and earnings with that of colleagues with similar of same job functions both internally and externally to check if they are being rewarded or treated partially (Kretiner, 1998). From the stand point of (Hollyforde & Whiddett, 2002) and what he referred to as distributive justice, employees are mostly demotivated when they feel partially treated to their disadvantage, both in terms of monetary rewards and career advancement. In most cases, what may become resultant is lack of increased commitment to the organisation, reduced productivity and possibly search of better job offers where they feel more appreciated.


Though financial rewards seems to be one of the most widely accepted form of motivation in the world, though research in recent times reveals that motivation goes a long way beyond financial benefits (Thompson, 1996). Though (Herzberg, 1987) in one of his last work still mentions that pay is important considering the state of the economy around the world, pay creates some level of satisfaction for primary needs which are essential to survival. However, there are other factors which influences motivation, with reference to current theories and framework on motivation such as; Maslow's hierarchy of needs posits that once one level of need is satisfied, individuals tend to lose interest in matters relating to that need, what happens is that they aspire to satisfy a higher level of need. To gain further understanding of factors of motivation, it is imperative to revisit the components of Maslow's hierarchy of needs which are safety and physiological needs, love, esteem and self-actualisation. Managers need to take time in analysing these components in order to develop strategies which is capable of recognizing where individual employees fall within these Maslow's hierarchy of needs. This knowledge would guide managers into creating a work environment and reward system that is meaningful to the employees in order to create satisfaction. According to Hertzberg (1987), the Hygiene factors and growth are two most prominent issues in motivating employees. From these views, motivation in a workplace has gone way beyond money being seen as the main factor, Based on the farren's12 human needs motivation can be categorised into 2 types (supported by Rudolph & Kleiner, 1989) Extrinsic (Social Motives) related to tangible rewards such pay, pensions, work environment, promotion etc. Intrinsic (psychological motives) related to opportunity to use one's ability, appreciation, positive recognition, sense of belonging etc. Ket de Vries (2001) gives three classification of motivation based on needs and expectations of people at work, economic rewards, Intrinsic Satisfaction, Social relationships as different theories have come up with various factors that are responsible in motivating employees to better performance.


In the words of Armstrong (2007: 12), employee reward are 'all of the employer's available tools that may be used to attract, retain, motivate and satisfy employees'. Armstrong (2010) also suggests that most organisations strategically deploy reward as a tool for enhancing motivation and performance. In a situation whereby the above definitions are the case in reality, it is safe to conclude that employee rewards is firmly rooted in dealing with issues of employee motivation and organisational performance. Hence organisations will have to firstly ensure that a comprehensively designed reward system is in place, capable of maintaining a satisfied work force, before issues of performance and motivation can then be subsequently addressed. Furthermore, Hollyforde & Whiddett (2002) mentioned that a long term performance enhancement can be attained by using pay as form of rewards. This can be achieved through commensurate pay for measure amount of employee input or amount of work done. However, the major challenge organisations may face may include devising an objective structure which can be used in measuring work input. Again, Armstrong (2007) also outlined another challenge which human resource managers may encounter in the design stage of developing an adequate reward system is measuring input and the choosing between applying as a subject of previous performance and adopting reward in a method that is designed to enhance impending performance. This is also an indication that a huge volume of challenges face by human resource managers in respect of reward management would fall on the misperception concerning desired result and the prevailing realities (Carraher et al., 2006).


The 'Hygiene theory' is one of the major motivational frame work which is useful in designing reward processes. The hygiene theory (Herzberg, 1987) posits that financial rewards are viewed by most people to be dissatisfying if it is not sufficient, but more of it is not necessarily motivating. What motivates people the most is the nature of the job, job responsibility and appropriate recognition when a good job is done. Based on this particular observation, Herzberg (1987) suggested that if a reward mechanism is to lead to higher degrees of motivation among employees, it is imperative that organizations to take into consideration intrinsic motivational variables as opposed to merely emphasising on financial reward. The hygiene theory posits that most individuals have already satisfied their primary needs. There are periods when primary short term needs demand attention over long term developmental demands. In such circumstances, reward should be designed in such a way that it connects the employee's effort to the pay he or she obtains.

The view that the design of reward mechanisms should be based on the short term or long term goals of an organization is supported by the hierarchy of needs theory. In this particular context, while money can be used to motivate employees to accomplish the short term goals of an organization, it may prove ineffective in the realization of longer term goals. Again, the hierarchy of needs theory suggests that individuals who are at the topmost end of the organizational hierarchy are less likely to be motivated by money, while those at the lower end of the hierarchy are likely to be more motivated by money (Hollyforde & Whiddett, 2002). People at the higher end of the needs spectrum are more motivated by intrinsic motivational variables such as career development and self development. Maslow (1943) suggested that despite the fact that financial rewards are a useful way of encouraging employees to perform well, more emphasis on it as a sole means of employee motivation is likely to be unsuccessful, especially over the long term. When it comes to the design of reward systems, there is need to decipher where the employees concerns lie especially with respect to the needs spectrum. In this regard, reward systems for lower level employees should be centred on financial rewards, while the reward systems for higher level employees should be centred on non-financial rewards.


Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards

When it comes to the ways that people can be rewarded for the efforts that they give in the respective job roles, two main reward types come to mind namely; rewards that are extrinsic and rewards that are intrinsic (Armstrong, 2005). Extrinsic rewards differ from intrinsic rewards in the sense that they usually tend to be very tangible and external in nature (Figure 2.4). Some types of extrinsic rewards include salary, employee bonuses, pay incentives, job security, staff promotion e.t.c. Intrinsic rewards mainly deal with rewards that are internal and intangible. They cannot be seen especially as they influence internal psychological processes within the employee (Figure 2.3). Some type of intrinsic rewards include things like appreciation after a goal or objective is attained, opportunities for new challenges, job rotation after a goal has been achieved, kind attitudes from supervisors or employers e.t.c (Armstrong, 2010).

There have been arguments about which form of reward is more effective in making a person perform the best in their respective job role or function. Frey (1997) argued that once pay surpasses a subsistence level, intrinsic factors are more potent motivators for staff, and the motivation of staff demands rewards such as satisfaction after a goal has been met and a sense of importance on the part of the staff that his or her contribution has been worth it. Following along the lines of Frey's argument, Armstrong (2005) noted that intrinsic factors tend to be responsible for prolonged or sustained motivational and performance levels on the part of the employee. Armstrong (2005) further suggested that extrinsic factors tend to only lead to short term motivation on the part of the employee. Hafiza et al., (2011) noted that the performance that an organization expects for its staff can only be attained when a staff member obtain a sense of mutual gain of the organization together with himself.

Putting the above observations into proper context, companies ought to carefully establish reward processes and policies that measure the performance of employees at all levels and then compensating them properly either through tangible rewards or intangible rewards. This particular position is very important as it often influences the effectiveness of reward in improving job performance. Hollyforde & Whiddett (2002) made an important observation in this specific regard; that job levels are a major determinant of the type of reward systems that are likely to be successful in improving job performance. In their opinion, people are lower end of the organizational ladder (lower level staff) are likely to prefer extrinsic rewards while people at the upper end of the organizational ladder are likely to prefer intrinsic rewards. This particular observation reflects the idea of Frey (1997) that once pay surpasses the subsistence or physiological level, intrinsic factors are more effective. For higher level staff, pay is usually not much of an issue rather improving their self worth becomes an important form of motivation. Bishop (1987) noted that there is a direct relationship between pay, staff productivity and reward processes. Bishop (1987) further stressed that this relationship is often dependent on company size. Bearing in mind this observation, companies need to strike the right balance between employee commitment, employee loyalty and overall company performance.

Source: Hafiza et al., (2011)

Figure 2.3: Intrinsic rewards and the motivation of workforce

Source: Hafiza et al., (2011)

Figure 2.4: Extrinsic rewards and the motivation of workforce

Some philosophers and writers on motivation of employees established that it is impossible to satisfactorily motivate employees based on Maslow's "Heirachy of Needs" and Frederick Herzberg's "theory of hygiene needs" or "two-factor theory" because these theories claimed that human needs are 'insatiable'. For example, according to Amabile and Kramer (2007) "anyone in management knows that employees have their good days and their bad days and that, for the most part, the reasons for their ups and downs are unidentified. Most managers nod their heads at this fact of work life". Other writers on motivation and filling human needs include, Henry Mintzberg's "Ten Managerial Roles", Michael E. Porter's "Competitive Strategy", Chris Argyris's "Bureaucratic/Pyramidal Value System and Humanistic/Democratic Value System", Douglas McGregor's "Theory X and Theory Y", Rensis Likert's Management System and Styles", Elton Mayo's "Hawthorne Experiments", Fredrick Herzbergs' "Two Factor Motivation Hygiene Theory" and David McClelland's "Achievement Theory". Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper titled "A theory of Human Motivation", is an extension of human distinctive curiosity. Maslow divides the human needs into five categories. Maslow noted that human beings' first category of needs is physiological; the second is safety related; the third is love/belonging to the society; the fourth is esteem and the fifth is self-actualization. The physiological needs which could inculde breathing, food, sex, sleep, homeostatic and excretion; safety needs include security of one's self, employment, resources, morality, family and health ;love/belonging to society, friendship (being in love and being loved), family, sexual intimacy; esteem which could range from courage, confidence, achievements, respect for others, respect by others and self-esteem; and lastly self-actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts (Maslow, 1943).The Hawthorne studies supposedly discovered the influence of human relations or social factors on workers motivation (Roethlisberger and Dickson, 2003). According to Porter (1997) and Mintzberg (1989) motivation is only a secondary link in the chain represented by management. According to both authors, both motivation and market evolution are evolving in a linked relationship. Herzberg (1959) alleged we have basic needs (hygiene needs) which, when not fulfilled, cause us to be dissatisfied. Meeting these needs does not make us simply prevents us from becoming dissatisfied. 'Hygiene' is a medical word and an analogy of the inevitability to do something that is essential but which does contribute towards making a patient well (it only prevents infection).These needs are also called maintenance needs. Herzberg said there is a separate set of needs which, when resolved, do make us satisfied. These are called motivators (Herzberg, 1959). A manager does not need to provide all employees' needs before being a motivator. All he needs to do is make sure he keeps his employees happy through identifying their state of mind while in office and talking over moody employees' problems. Mintzberg (1989) states that to be able to motivate employees diverse factors would have to be put in place as much as we have employees as needs vary according to individuals. If management could go to the extent of carrying out opinion survey on employees to identify various wants and needs, they will be able to motivate all employees and it will in turn affect production positively. Herzberg (1987) recognized two main categories of motivational factors: contextual factors and descriptive factors. The first factor which include salaries, working conditions and organization strategy. The second factors include threats and opportunities, competences, achievements and sense of belonging. Herzberg (1959) learned that the factors that lead to dissatisfaction are completely different from those that offer satisfaction. He described the positive factors "motivation factors". These met human needs in a unique way and cuts across achievement, personal development, job satisfaction and recognition. Improving these factors can provide employees; job satisfaction. Herzberg (1959) came to a conclusion that organization's should motivate employees through job satisfaction, rather than reward or pressure, he believed workers are not motivated by salaries and wages. But his study of 200 Pittsburgh Engineers and Accountants are based on middle-, and high-, cadre workers and cannot be generalized for low-cadre employees. Low-cadre employees and employees in developing countries like Nigeria see salary and wages as motivating factors more than anything. According to Levinson (1989) "every manager must motivate and encourage employees by reconciling the individual needs with the goals of the organization. All employees have ambitions and goals which they want to achieve through their organizations. Responsible managers ought to help them to achieve their modest ambitions. According to Lewis-McClear and Taylor (1998) employee contract breach may act as demotivator and is connected with employee's intention to quit an organization. Having clearly set-out objectives can motivate employees. For employees to be fully motivated, managers must be aware that human beings vary in the way they think, see, view, feel, do things and reason. Myer-Briggs model (1956) talked about human differences. This model is about personality types. Myer-Briggs identified four ways people differ from one and other. These are: the way they think; the way they view; the way they feel/perceive and the way they see things (Myers,1980).To satisfy any individual you must identify what he needs either by observation him/her or through interviewing the individual. Psychologist Eduard Spranger said there are six values in human beings which we all have in varying degrees. They are: theoretical (passion for knowledge), utilitarian (passion for money and what is useful), aesthetic (passion for beauty, balance, and harmony), social (passion for service to others), individualistic (passion for power and control), traditional (passion for finding the highest meaning in life). He said your top two values are what drive you and must be satisfied for you to achieve happiness in life (Spranger, 1955).Motivating employees begins with recognizing that to do their work passionately, employees must be in an environment that meets their basic emotional drives to acquire, bond, comprehend, and defend (Nohria et al, 2008).According to Amabile (1998), "in today's knowledge economy, creativity is more important than ever. But many companies in recent time unwittingly employ managerial practices that kill it. How? By crushing their employees' intrinsic motivation, the strong internal desire to do something based on interests and passion. Managers don't kill creativity on purpose. Yet in the pursuit of productivity, efficiency, and control - all worthy business imperatives - they undermine creativity". Mishra and McKendall (1993) suggested that employees suggestion programs (ESPs) should be used to involve employees in decision making and motivate them. "An ESP represents an chance to tap the intelligence and resourcefulness of an organization's employees, and by doing, gain significant cost savings. Those companies and managers that have an ESP program uniformly list economic advantages first when describing the benefits of their employee suggestion programs" (Mishra and McKendall, 1993).

Employees that are familiar with the objectives of their organisation are more motivated than employees who have promise of higher pay. Organisations should have corporate culture", build teams and not encourage any scheme that recognises individual team members as the champion of a team. Review of wokers should be done before they start work at all where the minimum performance required of them will be exposed in aclear and writen form. Performance measurement of employees should not be shrouded in mystery. If a bonus has to be paid to motivate an employee to exceed performance, it has to be for performing a measurable and obvious task. Organization's should recognize that there are external factors beyond the control of employees like politics of the area they operate, economic issues like interest rate, inflation, deflation, currency exchange rate etc, social issues like immigration, language barrier, culture etc, technology change, laws and legal issues, demography, climatology, societal risks etc and health and safety issues, which can affect the performance of employees. In a case where bonuses are paid for officers who receive salary and wages to perform a given job, the bonuses should be motivational, an instigator of innovation and good work and not as a tradition. Employee receiving the bonus should be able to show that the exceptional performance was as a result of his action and nothing else. Workers should not be seen as 'greedy' by employers when drafting contract agreement. They should not be treated as miserable and as if it is only money they work for. Workers should be made to feel proud about a business as a "going-concern" and not to milk it dry. The exposition of the obvious - that a company which was in debt will go extinct if something was not done has motivated a company's workers to perform brilliantly without additional remuneration, turned around the fortune of the company and thereby saved their company and their jobs

Miner, J. B. (2005). Organizational behavior. Armonk, N.Y., M.E. Sharpe.

Miner, J. B. (2007). Organizational behavior 4 From theory to practice. Armonk, N.Y., M.E. Sharpe.