I intend to explore Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and Herzberg two factory theories and indentify the key differences that exist between them, and explain how they can be applied by managers to motivate staff. Both are examples of content theories, a content theory is one where “we can attribute a similar set of needs to all individuals” ( Fincham and Rhodes, 2005, pg 193) Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is essentially based on a pyramid depicting the different types of needs that one has. At the bottom of the hierarchy are the physiological needs, these are the subsistence needs that one needs to survive such as food, warmth clothing and shelter.
The next stage up from there is the security needs, this is concerned with the need that humans have of feeling safe and away from danger. Progressing from there is the social needs, this focuses on the needs of “giving and receiving affliativeness, belonging and love” (Fincham and Rhodes, 2005, pg 195). Above that you have the self-esteem needs which are meeting the needs that one has for “achievement, independence and freedom”( Fincham and Rhodes, 2005, pg 195). Finally at the top are self-actualisation needs, which relates to the need of one being able to fulfil his or her full potential.
If all prior needs before this stage are satisfied this can prove to be an influential source of our motivation as made evident by “Maslow contends that if we have met the other four basic needs, the need for self-actualization is ‘potent’ enough to serve as our primary motivator for all behavior”. ( Oleson, 2004). The theory therefore suggests that we are first motivated by our basic needs, once this is achieved, our behaviour is focused on satisfying our safety needs, once this is achieved we look to fulfil our esteem needs, and so on and so forth.
Showing that once one level is achieved, it will have little influence in motivating us, but rather it would be the above stage in the pyramid. Therefore indicating it would not be sufficient for managers just to pay employees to motivate them, as employees who have satisfied their physiological needs, they would be seeking to achieve their safety needs, from there they would be looking to satisfy social needs and so on, implying that employees would be continuously looking to fulfil more and more of their needs, “this means that employers can never do too much. Employers should strive to create opportunities for employees to satisfy as many of the needs from the pyramid as possible. For example for employees to satisfy their social needs, employers may wish to introduce more frequent group projects, or organise sports activities. To cater for the esteem needs managers may consider delegating authority to them, as this would reflect that they have faith in the competency of the worker, alternatively managers can provide the employee with the opportunity to develop their skills or qualification via training at the expense of the firm, this would make the employee feel valued.
Managers can use Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, to indentify which needs believe they are satisfying and this would help managers to determine which needs are yet to be satisfied, and these unfulfilled needs will become the motivator. I will now begin to discuss Herzberg’s two factor theory which was developed through interviewing 200 accountants and engineers. The theory implies that “that humans have two different sets of needs and that the different elements of the work situation satisfies or dissatisfies these needs”. ( Anderson, Gudmundson, Lundberg, 2008).
The first element is referred to as the hygiene factors and relate to the “working conditions, salary, job security, company policy, supervisors and interpersonal relations” ( Fincham and Rhodes, 2005). Herzberg claimed if these factors were absent it would lead to dissatisfaction, but the mere existence of such conditions would not lead to increased motivation. Whereas the most intrinsic aspects of work that led to recognition, achievement and advancement were discovered to be the sources of employee satisfaction, and as such were referred to as motivators.
This indicates that satisfaction and dissatisfaction arises through two different aspects of the job, one mainly concerning the work conditions, and the other the actual job itself. The theory differs to that of Maslow’s as it does not recognise pay as being a motivator but rather a hygiene factor. This means that managers who are to implement the teachings under this model should not use high salaries as a means of them trying to stimulate motivation, but should rather improve the intrinsic aspects of the job in order to enable an individual to satisfy needs of achievement, recognition etc.
However, I mentioned before that the theory was established through the responses of accountants and engineers, both are well renowned and well paid middle class posts, meaning that under Maslow’s hierarchy of needs their basic are already likely to be fulfilled hence there is no real surprise why this did not appear as a motivator, and therefore does not contradict Maslow’s theory but rather reinforces it. A ifferent outcome may have occurred if Herzberg used professions that are not so well paid to the extent where it would be difficult for one to satisfy basic needs, such as workers in less economically developed countries that are subject to exploitation. Social needs which appear in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy are only referred to as hygiene factors, therefore highlighting a difference of opinion between the two theories.
This would be reflected in the actions taken by managers to motivate employees. Managers who are to follow the two factor theory may try and ensure that the employees are exposed to an environment where workers can socialise, as failing to do this would lead to dissatisfaction.
Whereas in the case for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs managers would perceive the fulfilment of social needs to act as a motivator, and therefore they may put a greater emphasis on trying to achieve this through frequent group projects, outings, and sports activities, when compared to Herzberg’s theory. What Herzberg has referred to as motivators do coincide with the self-esteem needs under Maslow, considering that they are both satisfied by common conditions such as achievement and recognition.
As a result of these findings from both theories, there seems to be fairly strong evidence to suggest that employees gain a greater a deal of satisfaction from the intrinsic aspects of the job, as this is what ultimately leads to feelings of achievement, which seems to be a source through which employees gain motivation from both theories, therefore, suggesting that an effective tactic that managers can use to incite motivation within employees is to change the nature of their roles so as to incorporate opportunities where they can gain senses of achievement.
This can perhaps be achieved by challenging employees, recognising their good work via reward such as promotion. Having analysed both theories, I have discovered that there are both similarities and differences between them. For example both theories assume that individuals have the same set of needs, and they also recognise that if the higher level psychological needs are satisfied such as achievement, recognition, employees would become motivated. However, where the two theories differ are with the issue of hygiene and motivators.
Maslow’s hierarchy effectively perceives all levels of the pyramid as the sources of motivation if they are yet to be fulfilled, whereas Herzberg made the distinction between sources of dissatisfaction and motivation. This theory may make managers reconsider their subordinate’s job structure particularly when their ambition is to motivate staff. Under Herzberg work conditions would not constitute as a motivator this is contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy which recognises that pay and the need to feel safe do act as sources motivation.
This shows how the behaviour of managers may be different when following either of the theories. Inciting motivation from employees requires constant effort, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs stresses that once a level is achieved the influence of that level on our motivation diminished, and if we focus on the two factor theory we would also come to realise that for employees to become motivated i. e. through satisfying senses of advancement, recognition etc, managers would therefore have to continuously seek ways of adapting the intrinsic aspects of the job to cater for such needs to be fulfilled.
References Anderson T. D, Gudmundson A, Lundberg C. (2009). ‘Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of work motivation tested empirically on seasonal workers in hospitality and tourism’ Tourism Management. Volume 30 Issue 6, pages 890-899. Fincham, R. and Rhodes, P. (2005). Principles of Organizational Behaviour. New York: Oxford University Press Oleson, M. (2004). ‘Exploring the relationship between money attitudes and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’ International Journal Of consumer studies, Volume 28, pages 83-92.
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