The ERG theory of motivation describes how individuals are motivated by the three needs of existence, relatedness, and growth. These needs are basic and essential, and as soon as one is satisfied individuals become motivated to fulfill the other needs.
The ERG theory is important because it can help managers and employees understand what motivates people and how they can be encouraged to be productive.
ERG theory was developed by Clayton Alderfer, an American psychologist, in the 1960s and 1970s. According to ERG Theory, every employee will try to satisfy all three needs simultaneously, but they will only be able to focus on one at a time. This theory explains that employees are motivated when they can satisfy one of their needs.
Table Of Contents
Meaning Of ERG Theory
The ERG theory of motivation is a hierarchical system that classifies needs into three categories: existence, relatedness and growth. This was created to help people understand their desires at different levels so they could better satisfy them with less distraction.
1. Existence (E)
The Existence needs of ERG Theory refers to the basic physical safety needs and psychological needs of survival. This category of existence needs includes feeling safe, good health, water, food, and shelter. These needs are essential for survival and allow an individual to meet their basic physical and psychological requirements.
In order to survive, people must be able to meet their most basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. If they cannot meet these needs, they will not be able to focus on anything else.
For example, when someone is hungry, their only focus will be on food. They will think about food all the time, and once they’ve eaten they’ll move on to the next thing they need.
2. Relatedness (R)
The relatedness needs of Alderfer’s ERG Theory of motivation involve interacting with other people in order to feel happy and satisfied. People need positive interactions with family, friends, peers, and superiors in order to meet this need. This need is not as strong as the survival or existence needs, but it is still important for a person’s overall happiness and well-being.
3. Growth (G)
The growth needs in Alderfer’s ERG Theory of motivation are similar to the esteem and self-actualization needs in Maslow’s Theory. People have a desire for self-development, advancement, and personal growth. This need for growth explains that people have to do meaningful work and be creative to explore their potential so they can fulfill their needs for growth.
Organizations should focus on motivating employees by providing them with interesting and challenging work. When workers are given the opportunity to grow within their field, they will be more inclined towards doing what’s necessary for success instead of being forced into completing tasks that don’t interest or challenge them.
Alderfer’s ERG Theory of motivation explains the principle of frustration-regression. It explains how people regress when they can’t achieve higher level needs. When we fail to meet a higher-level need, like the need for achievement or accomplishment, our frustration will often cause us to regress and try to satisfy lower level needs.
When an individual is not motivated, he will eventually become frustrated and this can lead to further problems. He might seek out relatedness needs in order for him to feel like his life has meaning again which would mean more interactions with other team members or even taking on some of their tasks if the person gets too regressed (focused on fulfilling Existence).
If a person cannot satisfy even his own needs with what’s available around him then there could be existence factors at play–and as frustration increases so too do these regressionary desires which only serve more harm than good over time.
Difference Between Maslow And ERG Theory
Maslow and ERG Theory are two different theories of motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a five-level pyramid that identifies human needs in order from the most basic to the most complex, while ERG theory posits three levels: existence, relatedness, and growth.
Maslow’s hierarchy begins with biological needs like food and water and progresses to safety (security) and love (belonging). The final level is self-actualization, which means fulfilling one’s potential. All people go through this hierarchy but not necessarily in the same order or at the same pace.
ERG theory suggests that there are three types of needs that motivate behavior: existence needs – these are things like air, water, and food; relatedness needs – this level of need is all about having a sense of belonging.
It includes things like family, friends, romantic relationships, and social activities; growth needs – these are a person’s desire to grow emotionally and intellectually through experiences such as education.
ERG theory posits that the existence and relatedness levels are more important when people are in the lower parts of Maslow’s hierarchy. After a person has met her basic needs, she will look to fulfill her potential by engaging in growth experiences. The last step is self-actualization, which is when someone applies her full creativity and talents toward achieving success.
ERG theory posits that there are three essential needs that motivate people: existence, relatedness, and growth. People are motivated to satisfy these needs in different ways and to different degrees. The theory is simple and flexible, which makes it easy to apply in practice. Managers can use it to understand employees’ priorities and create strategies that will engage and motivate them. ERG theory is thus beneficial for organizations, as it leads to higher employee engagement and retention.