Motivational Variables at Workplace

By talking about motivation, there is no solemn solution for everyone, and there are a variety of concepts on the way to define and classify motivational factors. For the essay, I chose the Motivator-Hygiene Theory, Learned Needs Theory, plus Theory X and Theory Y. I will describe them and share my thoughts on the last theory of management approach.

First, the three theories describe the manager-employee relationship through motivation. Meanwhile, they refer to various aspects of communication: workplace conditions, employee needs, and manager assumptions. Let us look closely at the concepts.


Motivator-Hygiene Theory (Two Factor Theory) was presented in 1959 by an American behavioral scientist Frederick Herzberg (Juneja, n.d.). To make sure that the job is stimulating and rewarding, Herzberg suggests a two-step algorithm which includes:

Step 1. Eliminate hygiene factors (job dissatisfaction). 

By taking the first step, develop a team culture built on respect and dignity and get feedback from employees that they are being treated fairly and respectfully. Herzberg called this “job enrichment.” 

Step 2. Focus on motivators (job satisfaction). Managers should create opportunities for achievement in the workplace, give people as much responsibility as possible, offer training, and pay attention to celebrating achievements, recognizing and rewarding employees’ contributions.

Those two steps significantly impact team motivation, productivity, and performance (MindToolsVideos, 2018). 

Motivational Needs Theory (The Human Motivation Theory) by an American psychologist David McClelland is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The concept was published in 1961 and defines employees’ motivating drivers (MindTools, n.d.). According to the author, people possess three dominant motivators: AchievementPower, and Affiliation, and those drivers operate on a personal and institutional basis. To apply the theory in the workplace, we need to take two steps:

Step 1. Identify Drivers of Individual or a Team;

Step 2. Structure your Approach according to Their Need Type.

Theory X and Theory Y were developed by an American social psychologist and management professor Douglas McGregor in the 1960s. The concept presents two management styles based on the manager’s assumptions and behavior towards workers.

From my perception, Theory X interferes with Micromanagement, for in both concepts, managers do not trust their employees and control them very closely. The key statement of the theory is “People work because they have to” (Clayton, 2020). The style seems to be old-fashioned nowadays.

 Contrary, Theory Y is applied to a more relaxed managerial style (Blaisdell, 2014). The credo of the concept is “what a pleasure to work for” to encourage employees and give them the best possible opportunity to be creative, passionate, and take the initiative (Clayton, 2020).

 McGregor suggested that Theory X fit pre-industrial management; therefore, it is an artifact. Today the theory Y is the way to go. Furthermore, he worked on the Theory Z approach by mixing the best traits from X and Y; the framework and structure adding a considerable amount of respect, freedom, and trust (Clayton, 2020).

To sum up, the theory reminds us that there are two extremes of management. And leaders might choose appropriate approaches for a particular employee, group of people, or company’s culture. Moreover, for being fundamental research, the three theories have an input for the theories that come after.


Blaisdell, J. (2014, August 12). McGregor’s Theory X & Y [Video]. YouTube.

Clayton, M. (2020, February 13). Douglas McGregor – Theory X and Theory Y: Process of Model of Motivation [Video]. YouTube.

Juneja, P. (n.d.) Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation. MSG.

MindTools. (n.d.). McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory. MindTools.

MindToolsVideos (2018, July 16). Motivating Your Team Using Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors [Video]. YouTube.

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