Theories of Motivation and Their Application in Organizations: A Risk Analysis

Written By: KHALID U.

Theories of Motivation and Their Application in Organizations: A Risk Analysis

In all enterprises whether private or state-owned, motivation plays a key role in driving employees toward achieving their goals, organizational goals, and to a certain extent the dreams of their nations. There are many theories of motivation, and they mostly give a relation or influence the outcomes of employee job satisfaction. There are three main theory categories, namely content theories, process theories, and contemporary theories (Saif, Nawaz, Jan, and Khan, 2012). Generally speaking, these theories include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene (or two-factor) theory, Alderfer’s Existence, Relatedness, and Growth theory, and McClelland’s needs theory. How motivation comes about and how it leads to satisfaction is explained by process theories; theories that fall into this category include Porter-Lawler’s model and expectancy theory by Vroom.

Motivation Theory: Maslow´s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is the main theory for motivational encouragement throughout all businesses. Theory of Human Motivation” (Jerome, 2013) Starting from the bottom of the pyramid is ´Physiological and Safety Needs, which are usually linked to organizational culture, and every new organization experiences, where they will experience difficulties with their basic needs. As described in the pyramid below, these needs play a major role in motivating behavior and the success of a human being. Being able to satisfy all of these needs is critical to be able to avoid unnecessary consequences. “Every person is capable and has the desire to move up the hierarchy toward a level of self-actualization”



Maslow (1943) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one.

Risk Analysis of De-Motivated Employees in Organizations

Employees who lack motivation in the workplace are a risk factor when it comes to executing day to day operations of the business. Some employees are engaged in company equipment and tools daily, some of which need maximum attention and safety when using. So it is the responsibility of the organization to have a well-balanced workforce of employees and their emotions as far as work issues are concerned.

Operational Risks

Absenteeism: Van der Merwe and Miller (1988,) cite a definition used by the United States Department of Labour which defines absenteeism as the failure of workers to report on the job when they are scheduled to work. Regarding this definition, non-attendance such as vacation leave, military service, block release leave, and suspension do not qualify as absenteeism and should be completely excluded from the ensuing absenteeism analysis process.

Personnel Risks

Organizations desire to keep their staff for longer periods. Organizations spend a lot of money and time training their employees. High staff turnover due to unhappy employees will cost the organization of all the spent resources.

Reputational Risks

Dissatisfaction: The morale of the entire office can be brought down when one employee lacks motivation. Employees who are not satisfied with their job might resort to quitting; therefore, this scenario should be avoided. The employees are to perform to their abilities to satisfy their customers and to retain them all the time.

Health Risks

Employees who are not entirely happy at work can have health problems including stress. Stress-related illnesses will jeopardize wellness efforts in the workplace of keeping healthy employees. Stressed and de-motivated employees may cause accidents at work when using types of machinery and other dangerous tools.

Financial Risks

Highly motivated employees will always put their best efforts into their work and help the company to be productive. Production at work will bear more output which will be able to generate much-needed income. If employees are happy absenteeism will be reduced thereby saving costs for their organizations. Taylor (2009 and 2012) agree that a financial crisis can be because of economic circumstances, making it extremely difficult for businesses to operate.


Motivation is very much needed for employees in an organization to be productive, and management or leadership style has an important role to play. Motivation is not always based on financial rewards, but non-financial rewards methods can also be used to derive the best out of employees. Although individuals have their expectations, it is the leadership’s responsibility to develop and align with theories that are suitable to bring job satisfaction to their employees. However, there is no single reliable theory to be used, a mixture of them can be utilized

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