Motivational Theories Applied At Google


Motivation is a greater need for the employees to perform optimally at their workplaces. Some employees consider money as a higher source of motivation while others are motivated by different forms of rewards such as recognition or good working environment. Irrespective of the methods used by the companies to motivate their employees, the end goal should be targeted towards ensuring that the workers are satisfied and can attain the organization’s goals and objectives. This is because when the employees are not motivated, then they are likely to give little or no efforts to their work. There are many theories on employee motivation that can be applied by organizations to motivate their workforce. This paper presents some of the motivational approaches and motivational strategies employed at Google Inc.


The motivation of employees is an essential factor that should be applied in all organizations, whether state-owned or private as it is the driving force behind the ability of the employees to achieve their expected goals and to some degree their national dreams. Motivation is defined as the intrinsic need that inspires us to take a particular action. Motivational theories are applied in leadership to influence organizational behavior and creating team success. It acts as the main center of influence within the team. For a leader to be in a position to motivate his teammates he can understand what drives them first. Numerous motivational theories of motivation which creates a relationship or influences the employees’ job satisfaction outcome. The motivational theories are categorized into three groups which comprise of the content theories, contemporary theories, and process theories. The process theories are those which explains what brings about motivation and how it leads to satisfaction; some examples of these theories are expectancy theory and Porter-Lawler’s theory. Some examples of contemporary theories include control, agency and equity theories, as well as reinforcement, job design and goal setting theories. Both the content and process theories must be applied jointly to motivate the employees effectively. In the case of extrinsic motivation, there is a difference in the factors (hygiene’s) that satisfy the higher-level needs and those that meet the lower-level requirements. The employees are likely to be dissatisfied if the hygiene (conditions outside the job such as incentive pay, salary, the job itself and working conditions) factors. The managers who are interested in creating a group of self-motivated employees at the workplace should focus on motivation factors and job content. The managers can motivate their employees by enriching their duties and responsibilities so that it becomes more challenging and then giving recognition and feedback. Rewards can also be used to encourage retention and the general relationship within the organization. Motivation at the workplace is critical because it gives the employees an assurance of job security, sense of belonging, good working conditions and challenging the workforce. Since motivation plays a broader role in influencing the workplace dynamics, this paper investigates some of the motivational theories and how they are applied at Google Company.

Literature Review

According to Saari and Judge (2004), workplace motivation is defined as a positive or pleasurable emotional state that arises from the improvement of one’s job experiences. Through this definition, they tend to bring to light two aspects which comprise of the employee’s emotional attachment to his job and the employer’s intentional review of the employee’s work. On the same note, David and Anderzej (2010) describe motivation as a cognitive decision-making process that intends to influence the behavior in a way that makes it possible to attain specific goals through monitoring and initiation. At workplaces, appraisals which have got predetermined standards and whose outcomes are capable of inflicting an emotional reaction which can determine the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of an employee are usually applied in conducting reviews. Reviews that produces good marks indicates that the employees are satisfied with their working conditions while bad marks mean the opposite. Sometimes the employee’s source of motivation might be generated from external factors such as rewards or the individuals need to do better.

Workplace motivation is a resultant effect of the employee’s job satisfaction because motivated employees are those who are satisfied with their jobs. Kumar and Singh (2011) state that the level of job satisfaction or lack of job satisfaction depends on the worker’s view of how his work fulfills the things that he desires at the workplace. Without the considerations of the situations or actual circumstances at the workplace, job satisfaction is an emotional response that cannot be quantified but can be detected in different forms. According to the view of Rasheed and Aamir (2012), they conceived that job satisfaction is the employee’s sensation about their place of work and what they expect from their work. The nature of employee’s response to their work is dependent on the incentives and rewards that the management accords them with the motive of increasing their job satisfaction and making them more productive. It is a necessity that organizations should support the efforts of their workers on most occasions to improve their loyalty and retention by eliminating all the factors that might elucidate dissatisfaction. Since different categories of individuals have got different needs and expectations from their places of work, the management should, therefore, factor in the needs of each class to ensure that the entire workforce is motivated.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is one of the motivational theories which apply to the workplace. Smith and Cronje (1992) illustrate that the explanation of the Maslow’s theory of demand is pegged on the fact that an individual’s need to maximize his desire in life is based on the importance of the essentials. The employee’s job satisfaction is therefore dependent on achieving the conditions that give the highest level of fulfillment. Organizations should, therefore, seek to address their employees’ needs at workplaces by according gratification to the most important. Basing on the basic biological, physical, psychological and social needs, Maslow’s theory places categorizes the individual needs of every person in a distinct group with different priorities of attainment. The priorities in their decreasing order are physiological needs, safety needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is, therefore, a fundamental theory that explains how job satisfaction should be achieved. For example, employees have got needs that must be satisfied at the places of work. Other than the need for clothing, shelter, food, security and social interaction, they need to be appreciated and recognized by their employers.

Among the many work motivation theories, Herzberg’s (1966) motivator-hygiene is one of the most theory of motivation in the recent past. This theory classifies the motivating factors into two groups: motivating factors which are directly related to the work itself and the hygiene factors which have got something to do with the surrounding environment. Regarding Hackman and Oldham’s (1976) job enrichment model, they propose that jobs can become more motivating if the following factors are increased: skill variety, task significance, task identity, feedback, and autonomy. According to a specific psychological view, it is suggested that work involvement and strong interests are some of the indicators of high levels of intrinsic motivation. According to the essential subjective perspective, it is indicated that extrinsic motivation works in contrary to intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation occurs whenever an employee is driven by an urge outside work such as promised incentives and rewards. This subjective view, therefore, implies that the reinforcement of strong extrinsic motivators encourages the sublimation of intrinsic motivation.


Under Fredrick Herzberg Two Factor Theory of motivation, employees work performance is influenced by two factors which are the motivational factors and hygiene factors. The hygiene factors are those conditions which are meant to increase the employee’s satisfaction at work. Google, therefore, promotes hygiene factors such as right working conditions, favorable policies, and administration quality supervision. Google also supplements its employees with motivation factors such as growth and responsibility, job interest. This way Google Inc. applies the concepts of Two Factor theory to enhance the working conditions of its employees. Through the implementation of the two-factor theory, its employees have become more efficient and creative because the company has created a fantastic environment at the workplace by establishing facilities such as bocce ball courts, giant climbing wall and bowling alleys, aquariums, massage chairs, and many others. This works well for the company because, as a technology company, the staffs requires a relaxed environment for them to generate new ideas which can be applied to the organization. The application of this theory is disadvantaged in that a lot of resources are used in putting the facilities.

Google also implements the use of concepts from Douglas McGregor’s theory Y of motivation. According to this theory, the method of external forces such as threats cannot be used to motivate the workers to perform their duties; instead, they can exercise self-discipline and caution to achieve the objectives. However, the zeal to commit to achieving their goals depends on the nature of rewards which are put in place for that level of achievement. To go about this, Google offers a creative and participatory atmosphere for its employees thus stimulating them to become more productive. Since Google is always in need of new ideas to support the growth of new technology, they encourage a flexible and innovative workplace. To promote the application of theory Y, the employees are allowed to work autonomously by being given less supervision.

Google Inc. promotes an environment of psychological safety to its employees. Psychological security at the workplace refers to the ability of one to take a risk without being embarrassed or feeling insecure. This is in accordance to the Maslow’s hierarchy needs where the ability to meet an individual’s lack of security can lead to motivation. Similarly, it has been discovered that even the most talented and intelligent individuals in an organization is capable of developing psychological insecurities and therefore failure to gratify that need can lead to dissatisfaction at work. Google practices a culture which encourages the employees to share their information and seek clarification on the things that they don’t understand through asking questions. The organization also creates an environment that factors in the contribution from all the members by involving them in a round table meeting where each member is allowed to give their point of view on the matters affecting the company.

At Google, there is a high level of dependency among the employees. The management has put in place structures that ensure that the workers can count on each other in the delivery of high-quality work. To do this, Google has initiated numerous training programs for its teams and employees. For example, The G2G assists the employees in improving their skills and learning new things about the organization and through this program, the members conduct a one on one mentorship on different professional skills, psychological safety, and other lessons. Through this program, every employee is encouraged to become both a learner and teacher during such interactive sessions. To promote learning and acquisition of new skills for the development of the employees, Google gives its employees an allowance of about % of their working time to construct their ideas in innovation.

Google encourages a culture of clarity and structure within its working environment. Through the culture of transparency and structure, the workers are enabled. To ensure that there is a proper understanding in each an individual’s role, the teams are assembled in accordance with their chemistry and strengths. Through making the right selection of the groups’ google can quantify the success of each side and also determine the role of each employee. Another way in which Google encourages clarity is workplaces tis through the promotion of transparency. The employees are given access to some of the reports which have been presented to the board to make them see the level of progress in the company.

Google offers a collection of benefits and amazing perks which acts as extrinsic of motivation to the employees. Some of these benefits include insurance plans, dental benefits, vacation packages, ., Flex spending accounts, no-cost health tuition reimbursements, and 401K plans. The company is also famous for other distinctive benefits which are given to the employees to show the company’s extreme determination to motivate his workers and increase their job satisfaction. Some of the extra benefits to the workers include employee reimbursement of about $5000 in case of any legal expenses.  The workers are assured of a maximum of 18 weeks of maternity leave with a 100 percent compensation. The parents are also given $500 for takeout meals after the baby is born. Child adoption support is also offered, free lunch and dinner for the employee daily during work.

Google gives its employees the freedom to decide on how and when to complete their tasks. The employees are given greater discretion to determine how to organize their working hours and when and how to have fun. Moreover, the employees have got a 20% allowance of their working time once in a week to do anything they like provided it is ethical and lawful, and this can be engaging in another project, sleeping or playing any game.

One of the significant contributors to the lack of motivation in the workplace is the ability to assign tasks that are challenging or deficient. The complexity like task assigned to the employee is likely to kill their morale and enthusiasm. At Google, the employees are not allowed to go through such experiences as the company makes a lot of efforts to ensure that the employees work efficiently. A 20% compensation is given to the workers for undertaking any innovation that might be adopted at the company.


Even though Google applies the concepts from motivational theory Y in their leadership style, there are some groups of workers who are not self-motivated and less ambitious, and therefore theory Y cannot work well with everyone. Google should, therefore, apply theory X for such workers cannot inherently work well with theory Y, and this involves the managers using threats and scold tactics.

Google should also apply Taylor’s four principles of science by training and rewarding workers basing on their work performance. By rewarding workers basing on their potentials after making certain levels of achievement and this can either be in the form of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. This way, the employees will be compelled to work harder and get rewards.

Even though Google uses the external form of recruitment to absorb new task force within its system, this method is risky, expensive and time-consuming. Google should, therefore, apply the internal recruitment method as it is less risk and saves more time.


Google Company is applying Maslow’s, theory Y and two Factor motivational theories to ensure that its employees are satisfied and motivated to deliver high performance. Following its application of the various workers’ motivational methods, Google Inc. has been able to create a perfect working environment for its workers. Some of how Google has managed to develop a good working environment with a high employee satisfaction level include. Encouraging clarity, dependency among the teams, promotion of psychological security to the workers, allowing flexibility at the workplace, provision of amazing perks to the employees which acts as a source of extrinsic motivation to them and many other beneficial practices. Through the application of the two-factor theory, Google has attracted benefits such as improved efficiency and creation of a fantastic working environment. It is however recommended that Google should also apply theory X to motivate workers who are less ambitious and lacks self-motivation. The external recruitment should be replaced with internal recruitments due to its many benefits.





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