Sirota's Three-Factor Theory

Keeping Employees Enthusiastic

Sirota's 3-Factor Theory of Motivation

Pride in a job well done.

© iStockphoto

High enthusiasm at work usually means eagerness, and a willingness to work hard.

So have you seen people begin new jobs with lots of enthusiasm, ready to start contributing, but then watched as they've steadily lost that motivation?

Unfortunately, this is common. And it can lead to serious problems for managers, as they struggle to motivate frustrated, indifferent, uncooperative, and unproductive team members. Close supervision, motivational speeches, reward programs, progressive discipline, and department transfers – these are all part of the manager's toolbox. However, these strategies are often not effective.

Dr David Sirota, an organizational researcher and consultant, conducted research into ways of motivating employees. His work was based on surveys from over four million workers around the world – as well as focus groups, interviews, case studies, and informal observations. Most prominently laid out in his 2005 book, The Enthusiastic Employee, he concluded that the way to enthuse workers is to give them what they want.

Sirota's Three-Factor Theory of Human Motivation in the Workplace is based on three fundamental principles:

  1. The organization's goals are not in conflict with the workers' goals.
  2. Workers have basic needs that organizations should try to meet.
  3. Staff enthusiasm is a source of competitive advantage.

To understand and appreciate Sirota's theory, it's important to recognize the starting point: that most people start a new job with high levels of motivation and enthusiasm, and that they generally want to enjoy what they do. He argues that this natural state of motivation is then reduced, over time, by bad practices and poor conditions within the company.

The three factors, which together build enthusiasm, are as follows:

  1. Equity/Fairness – People want to be treated fairly at work.
  2. Achievement – People want to do important, useful work, and be recognized for this.
  3. Camaraderie – People want to enjoy good relationships with their co-workers.

Factor One: Equity/Fairness

People are motivated by fair treatment, and they want their company to provide basic conditions that respect their physiological, economic, and psychological needs.

Sirota's surveys included questions about...

... for the complete article:

Mind Tools Club members, click here.

Join the Mind Tools Club to finish this article AND get 1,000 more resources

Join now for just $1, first month

"When I started using Mind Tools, I was not in a supervisory position. Now I am. Along with that came a 12% increase in salary." – Pat Degan, Houston, USA
Add this article to My Learning Plan

Where to go from here:

Join the Mind Tools Club

Click to join Mind Tools
Printer-friendly version
Return to the top of the page

Create a Login to Save Your Learning Plan

This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.


Connect with…

Or create a Mind Tools login. Existing user? Log in here.
Log in with your existing Mind Tools details
Lost Username or Password
You are now logged in…

Lost username or password?

Please enter your username or email address and we'll send you a reminder.

Thank You!

Your log in details have been sent to the email account you registered with. Please check your email to reset your login details.

Create a Mind Tools Login
Your plan has been created.

While you're here, subscribe to our FREE newsletter?

Learn a new career skill every week, and get our Personal Development Plan workbook (worth $19.99) when you subscribe.


Thank You!

Please check your Inbox, and click on the link in the email from us. We can then send you the newsletter.