Motivation Theories and Employee Recognition

April 01, 2011

Several motivation theories have been developed throughout the years; today, companies are using these theories in their employee recognition programs and daily interactions to optimize employee satisfaction and productivity. Understanding what factors motivate employees is the key to company success.

Employee Motivation
Employee motivation is the level of energy, commitment and creativity that an employee puts into his or her job. In our fast changing workplace, motivated employees can be the difference between a thriving organization and a not so successful one. Motivation leads to productivity which leads to success; managers must therefore understand what motivates each employee.

Employee motivation is one of the most intricate tasks that a manager must accomplish. The principal difficulty surrounding employee motivation is that the “motivating factor” is constantly changing.

Maslow’s theory

To understand how human motivation theories can help employee motivation, let’s look more closely at Maslow’s need-hierarchy theory.
In the 1940s, Dr. Abraham Maslow developed a needs-based framework of human motivation. The principle of Maslow’s motivation theory is that humans are stimulated by unmet needs.

According to Maslow, humans have five levels of needs:

  • Physiological: Air, water, food, sleep;
  • Safety: A safe place to live, financial security, medical insurance, job security;
  • Social: Love, friendship, belonging to a group;
  • Self Esteem: Respect, recognition, consideration, social status, achievement;
  • Self-actualization.

The idea is that a person’s essential needs such as physiological, survival, safety, love and esteem must be fulfilled prior to this person being able to seek a higher level need and to act selflessly. While a person is motivated to satisfy these requirements, he or she is moving towards growth, fulfillment and self-actualization.

Employee Recognition Awards to Motivate
So, based on Maslow’s Theory, once a need is satisfied it is no longer a motivator and the next level need begins to motivate. Self-actualization, the summit of Maslow's motivation theory, is the pursuit of one's full potential as a person; in contrast to lower level needs, the self-actualization need is never fully satisfied. As a person grows and evolves, other opportunities to grow must emerge.

Esteem and Recognition Needs
To increase employee motivation, workplace motivators must reach all levels of human needs:

  • Physiological motivation: A salary which provides life’s essentials; lunch and break periods; vacation time for rest and relaxation.
  • Safety needs: A safe work environment; job security.
  • Social needs: A feeling of belonging and acceptance to the team through team building and reinforcing group dynamics.
  • Esteem motivators: Employee recognition programs, both formal and informal; achievement awards; assign key responsibilities and projects; recognition awards; sales awards; years of service awards.
  • Self-Actualization: Offer challenges; important work assignments; allow employees to innovate, create and evolve over the long term.

To increase employee motivation, it is essential to recognize that everyone has different motivators. The same person will be motivated by different needs throughout their life and their career. It is vital that you acknowledge an employee’s current needs and leverage these needs in your employee recognition programs, your daily interactions and your employee incentive programs.

Williams focuses on the implementation and administration of personalized employee recognition programs and awards. If you are looking for a service recognition program, we have the experience to help you with tailored administration, awards, manufacturing of insignia products and customization of awards. Contact Williams Recognition today.

Contact us
Employee Recognition, Service Awards, Retirement Awards;
Let's get Started!

How can we help you ?
Williams Recognition Ltd.

sales offices:

Phone: 1.819.562.1254
Toll free: 1.877.562.6501
Facebook Linked In Twitter
About UsProgramsFAQ
© 2018 Williams Recognition - All Rights Reserved.     | is a sister company of Williams Recognition | Web Design by Adeo