The seven motivators

One limitation of the Acquired-Needs Theory (or the Three Needs Theory) is that it recognizes only three types of needs. In fact, research has proven that there are totally seven types of needs by which the vast majority of employees are motivated. Since different people are motivated differently depending on their needs, each type of needs is corresponding to one motivator. The purpose of this post is to introduce the seven motivators, how to recognize them and suggested treatment that managers should have for each motivator.

Seven motivators

The following table shows details about the seven motivators:

Motivator Description Might be heard saying Suggested actions
Achievement These employees want the satisfaction of accomplishing projects successfully. They want to exercise their talents to attain success. They are self-motivated if the job is challenging enough. “I’d like to take on more responsibility” – Assign challenging tasks that stretch their skills
– The “right” assignment is essential
Power These employees want satisfaction from influencing and controlling others. They like to lead and persuade, and are motivated by positions of power and leadership. “Bob, you take this task. Jim. you complete that task. Send me an email at the end of each day with your progress” – Provide the change to make decisions and direct projects
– Assign a mentor
Affiliation These employees gain satisfaction by interacting with others. They tend to be highly social and they enjoy people and find the social aspects of the workplace rewarding “Let’s get the team together to talk about next steps” – Provide opportunities to interact with others such as teamwork projects, group meetings, brainstorm sessions
Autonomy These employees seek freedom and independence. They like to work and take responsibility for their own tasks and projects “Ill take this task and report progress in two weeks” – Allow to set own schedules and work independently
Esteem These employees seek recognition and praise. They dislike generalities, so the praise should be for specific accomplishments and it does not necessarily to be public. This motivator is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “Would you take a look at this and tell me how it looks?” – Recognize and praise often, both in private and public
– Show that you respect their efforts
Safety and Security These employees seek job security, a steady income, insurance benefits and a hazard-free work environment. This is also mentioned in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs “How does that impact my job?” – Provide clear and predictable salary, benefits and vacation policies
Equity These employees want to be treated fairly. They tend to compare work hours, job duties, salary and privileges with those around them. They will become discouraged if they perceive inequities. This is also mentioned in the Equity Theory “Peter always seems to get the good assignments and I get the ones with all the problems” – Address equity issues immediately
– Answer the questions that are asked honestly
– Demonstrate fair and consistent treatment

Please also note that one employee can have multiple motivators at the same time. As a result, multiple actions can be combined together to motivate an employee appropriately.

Bess, D., 2012. Seven Motivators, BUS 626 Organizational Behavior. University of Hawaii at Manoa, unpublished
Pathways, 2007. The Essential Seven Motivators, [online]. Available at: [Accessed 17 December 2012]

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