The first motivational theory that will be considered is Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory. This is a content theory that states that there are five levels of needs that an individual moves through. The first level is physiological needs, which refers to the basic need for food and shelter. The second level is safety needs, which includes having job security. The third level is belongingness needs, which refers to an individual's need to feel like they are part of something and to feel that their contribution is important. The fourth level is esteem, which refers to an individual's need to feel good about themselves, including feeling that their work is appreciated. The fifth and final level is self-actualisation, which refers to the individual feeling that they are realising their potential. This final level represents the individual being at their most motivated. At this point, the employee works to be the best that they can be, while feeling maximum satisfaction and while also feeling that their contribution is valued. The important thing about the hierarchy is that individuals cannot achieve any stage without first progressing through the earlier stages (Daft 1997, p. 529). Therefore, an employee cannot reach the self-actualisation stage if their physiological, safety, belongingness and esteem needs have not first been met. This means that a manager must ensure that every level of need is provided for if they want employees to be highly motivated. The first level is physiological needs, which is the need for food. To provide for this need, the manager needs to ensure that employees are adequately compensated. The next stage is safety needs. Safety needs have been provided for when employees feel that they have job security and that they are physically safe within the workplace. The third stage is belongingness needs, which refers to an employee's need to feel that they are part of something. This means ensuring that employees know their role in the organisation and how they fit into the organisation as a whole. The fourth stage is esteem needs, which is the employee's need to feel good about themselves. To achieve this, employees need to be praised for their actions. This praise could be in the form of a monetary reward, an award for their efforts, or a simple thank you. This can also be achieved by giving the employee an opportunity to achieve that they feel like they are contributing. The final stage is self-actualisation. This stage occurs when all other needs have been met. At this stage, employees work for themselves, as much as for the company, where they desire to achieve goals because it matters to them. This is the maximum motivation achievable based on the fact that all individuals will ultimately value themselves more than anyone else. This theory can be applied by managers by recognising the level that employees are at and taking actions to help them progress through the stages until they reach the maximum level of motivation.
The next theory that will be considered is ERG theory. It is another content theory and is quite similar to Maslow's theory. ERG theory describes three levels of motivation: existence needs, relatedness needs, and growth needs. The first level of existence needs is similar to Maslow