Organisational Psychology and Motivation

Motivation is one of the key factors that drives employees to work towards achieving their goals in the workplace. In a competitive business environment, organisations constantly seek ways to motivate their employees to improve productivity and performance. Organisational psychologists play a critical role in designing and implementing motivational strategies that can drive employees to perform at their best. This article will discuss various types of motivation that an organisational psychologist may recommend in a workplace.

Motivation theories

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory: Maslow’s theory is one of the oldest and most well-known motivational theories. The theory proposes that humans have five basic needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. The theory suggests that these needs form a hierarchy, with the most basic needs at the bottom of the hierarchy and the most advanced needs at the top. The theory suggests that as lower-level needs are met, employees are motivated to move up the hierarchy to meet higher-level needs.
  2. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory: Herzberg’s theory suggests that two types of factors affect motivation: hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are factors that do not lead to motivation, but their absence can lead to dissatisfaction. Examples of hygiene factors include salary, working conditions, and job security. On the other hand, motivators are factors that directly contribute to motivation. Examples of motivators include recognition, responsibility, and opportunities for growth and development.
  3. Self-Determination Theory: Self-determination theory proposes that people are naturally motivated to grow, develop, and achieve their goals. The theory suggests that individuals are motivated when they feel a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Autonomy refers to the need to have control over one’s own life, competence refers to the need to feel capable and effective, and relatedness refers to the need to feel connected to others.
  4. Expectancy Theory: Expectancy theory suggests that motivation is driven by the belief that effort leads to performance, performance leads to rewards, and rewards are valuable to the individual. The theory suggests that individuals are motivated when they believe that their effort will lead to good performance and that good performance will lead to valuable rewards.

Application of motivational theories

These motivational theories can be applied in a variety of ways in the workplace. For example, organisations can apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory by ensuring that their employees have access to basic physiological and safety needs such as adequate rest and comfortable working conditions. They can also provide opportunities for growth and development to help employees achieve their self-actualization needs.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory can be applied by ensuring that hygiene factors such as job security and salary are in place while also providing opportunities for recognition and responsibility to serve as motivators.

Self-determination theory can be applied by allowing employees to have more autonomy in their work, providing opportunities for skill-building and development, and creating a supportive work environment that fosters positive relationships.

Expectancy theory can be applied by setting clear performance expectations, providing resources and support to help employees achieve those expectations, and offering valuable and meaningful rewards.


One example of a company that has successfully applied motivational theories in their workplace is Google. Google provides its employees with a supportive work environment, ample opportunities for growth and development, and a range of benefits such as free meals and on-site healthcare. The company also encourages autonomy by allowing its employees to work on projects that interest them, and recognises their achievements through its “Peer Bonus” program.

Another example is Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. Zappos offers regular feedback, encourages autonomy and provides opportunities for growth and development by allowing its employees to take on new roles and responsibilities.