5 Motivation Theories For Any HR Managers (Part 1)

As an HR manager, an integral part of your job is to work with human beings. To maximize the success of your job, you need a sound knowledge on human’s motivation. There are 5 most widely-recognized theories about motivations: Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs, McGregor’s Theory X and Y, McClelland’s Need Theory, Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory and Expectancy Theory.


Proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943, Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs shows a 5-level hierarchy of human basic needs with the lowest level referring to the most basic human needs and upper levels indicating higher needs of human.

  1. Physiological needs depict biological requirements for human survival such as food, warmth, shelter,.. Without these needs being satisfied, human body may not operate its funstions properly. These are considered the most essential ones in the hierarchy.
  2. Safety needs refer to protection from security, laws, stability and freedom from fear and nervousness.
  3. Social needs can be known as Love and belongingness needs. These needs are for interpersonal relationship. Human beings have the habit of being involved or belonging to a social group such as friends and family to feel loved and show affection.
  4. Esteem needs indicate the need for respect or reputation in terms of self-esteem or dignity.
  5. Self-actualization needs call for the realization of personal potential, self-fulfillment, presonal growth.


Proposed by Douglas McGregor in 1960s, McGregor’s Theory X and Y initiated 2 theories:
• Theory X indicates that people are negative, passive and incapable. That’s why they avoid responsibility and need watching.
• Theory Y supports that people tend to be positive, active and capable. So, they are willing to work without supervision and that they can direct their own effort

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