Motivation and Job Satisfaction

Definition of motivation and job satisfaction theories

The need theories were put forward by David McClelland. The theories attempt to rationalize how the need for achievement, affiliation and power impact the actions and behavior of individuals especially in management positions. McClelland’s theory stipulates that individuals are motivated by any of the three aforementioned factors regardless of their age, culture, or gender.  In the need for achievement, people prefer working on moderately difficult tasks, are more apt towards the result of their efforts and prefer to obtain feedback about their performance. The need for affiliation drives people to establish and maintain social relationships or identify with particular groups. Lastly, the need for power drives people to control or influence others.

Individual differences as a field in psychology examine the differences and similarities in people’s feelings, thinking and behavior. Individual differences strive to explain how people are similar psychologically and also how they vary in terms of their psychological characteristics. The individual differences theory proposes that individuals have unique qualities which determine the way they react to media messages. Thus, people react different to media content depending on their needs, prejudices, beliefs, moods, opinions, intelligence, personal dispositions and motivation of audience members (Aggarwal & Gupta, 2001). The media content is perceived by individuals differently according to their personality characteristics. Cognitive theories are not based on humanist or behaviorist perceptions. Cognitive theories are based on mental processes and information processing capabilities of individuals. Cognitive theories are interested in how individuals learn or process information. Cognitive theories assert that learning can be analyzed by focusing on the mental processes.

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Situational theory of leadership

The situational theory of leadership suggests that there is no particular “best” leadership style.  Instead, leadership is determined by the prevailing situation and the strategies employed to resolve the situation. The theory proposes that effectiveness of leaders is determined by their ability to modify their style to fit the particular situation and the ability to take into account various cues such as nature of the employees and type of task (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2015). Job satisfaction theories are closely linked to motivation theories. Job satisfaction theories analyze employee performance and motivation in the organization. Organizations must seek to ensure that employees are both satisfied and highly motivated in order to achieve set goals. The most common theories in this area include Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, motivator-hygiene theory, Herzberg’s theory, the dispositional approach, and among others.

Specific situation in the workplace

Employee turnover is often an issue of major concern to leaders. High employee turnover in an organization may be an indication that employees are neither motivated nor satisfied in their job. Employees who are actively searching for alternative jobs may be lowly motivated or less satisfied. On the other hand, employees who are satisfied with their jobs are unlikely to be looking for other jobs. Past studies indicate that job satisfaction is inversely related to turnover intention among employees. Job satisfaction is not only important to employee retention but also to their job performance. Highly satisfied employees are most likely to be highly productive and achieve their goals. High employee turnover is costly to an organization due to the significant resources that organizations spent in training and development, and in ensuring the new employee understands the company’s goals and objectives.

Job satisfaction theories can be used to analyze employee turnover in an organization. Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory examines job satisfaction and motivation among employees. Hertzberg identified a set of factors that determine job satisfaction in the workplace, and a set of other factors which may lead to job dissatisfaction. Hertzberg identified the motivators as those factors in the work environment that resulted in job satisfaction. The motivators include recognition, responsibility, challenging work, and involvement in decision making. On the other hand, there are other factors in the organization whose presence does not lead to job satisfaction, but when absent can cause dissatisfaction. These factors were called the hygiene factors and include job security, fringe benefits, status, good pay, work conditions and insurance. In order for organizations to increase job satisfaction and reduce high employee turnover, the hygiene factors must be removed. This can be done by for instance, paying reasonable wages and establishing a positive work environment.

How useful the theory in explaining lack of effort or the high performance

Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory is still relevant in explaining performance among employees. The theory was developed in the 1950s and remains relevant to date. The theory establishes what matters most to employees and what determines their job performance as well as job satisfaction levels. The theory establishes a set of factors that may cause job satisfaction and ultimately high performance among employees. The theory also outlines another set of factors which may cause dissatisfaction and ultimately lack of effort among employees. The theory is important in that it highlights the complex relationships between job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The theory shows that organizations must strive to cater to the numerous and complex employee needs. For instance, acting upon the factors that cause job dissatisfaction does not lead to job satisfaction. In addition, increasing the job satisfaction factors only among employees cannot lead job satisfaction.

Advantages and disadvantages of the theory

Hertzberg’s motivation theory

Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory is important in explaining employee motivation since it provides leaders with an analysis of how they can improve employee satisfaction. The theory informs leaders of ways they can increase employee satisfaction in the organization and hence reduce high turnover rates. The advantages of the theory also lie in the fact that it identifies two distinct set of factors that either cause job satisfaction or dissatisfaction among employees (Sapru, 2008).

Hertzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory has been criticized in explaining employee motivation or job satisfaction due to a number of reasons. Critics of the theory argue that the motivation and hygiene factors are observed based on the fact that individuals will take credit for success and satisfaction, but on the other hand blame external factors for causing dissatisfaction. It is highly unlikely that an employee would accept blame for poor work performance. In addition, job satisfaction may not necessarily increase the level of motivation or productivity among employees. The theory has also been criticized for ignoring the important role played by individual differences in employee productivity and motivation. The motivation and productivity of the individual employees and hence cannot be generalized due to the impacts of the individual differences. The theory fails to account for productivity of workers but instead focuses on employees’ satisfaction (Sapru, 2008).


Aggarwal, V. B., & Gupta, V. S. (2001). Handbook of journalism and mass communication.        New Delhi: Concept.

Hughes, R. L., Ginnett, R. C., & Curphy, G. J. (2015). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of        experience (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Sapru, R. K. (2008). Administrative theories and management thought. New Dehli: PHI   Learning.

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