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Application of Motivational Theories in Apple Inc.: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is usually shown as a pyramid. The lowest level of the pyramid consists of the most basic requirements, while the top of the pyramid consists the most complex needs. Once the lower level of needs are met, people can move to the upper level of needs. As people enter the pyramid, needs become increasingly psychological and social. After that, the need for love, friendship and intimacy become very important. At the top of the pyramid, personal esteem and a sense of accomplishment are needed.

Physiological needs

The basic physiological needs can be quite obvious. They include the things that are very important for us to continue survive. For example, food, water, and breathe. In addition, shelter and clothing are also the physiological needs because they are something that cannot be lacking too. In business perspective, the basic salary is also the physiological needs for the employees.

Safety and security needs

As we enter the second level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, needs begin to become more complex. At this level, the needs of security and security become primary. People want control and order in their lives, so this safety and security needs contribute largely to behaviours at this level. The basic security and safety needs include financial security, health and wellness, safety against accidents and injury. The examples of actions motivated by the safety and security needs are searching a job, receiving health insurance and health care, keeping money to a savings account, and moving into a safer house area.

Social Needs

Social needs include love, acceptance, and belonging. At this level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behaviour. Things that meet this needs include friendship, romantic attachment, family, social groups, community groups, churches and religious organizations. In order to avoid problems such as loneliness, depression, and anxiety, it is important for people to feel loved and accepted by others. Personal relationships with friends, family, and lovers play an important role, as involve in other groups that may include religious groups, sports teams, book clubs, and other group activities.

Esteem Needs

The fourth level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is esteem needs. Esteem needs begin to play a more outstanding role in motivating behaviour when the three needs below have been satisfied. At this point, it is increasingly important to gain the respect and appreciation of other people. In addition to the need for a sense of accomplishment and prestige, the esteem needs include self-esteem and personal value. People need to feel that they are valued by others and feel that they are contributing to the world. Participation in professional activities, academic achievements, sports and team involvement, and personal hobbies can all play a role in meeting the esteem needs. People who can satisfy their esteem needs by gaining good self-esteem and the recognition of others are often confident in their abilities. Those who lack self-esteem and the respect of others will feel inferiority.

Self-Actualization Needs

The highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is self-actualization needs. ‘What a man can be, he must be,’ Maslow explained, referring to the fact that people must make full use of human potential. According to Maslow’s definition of self-actualization, ‘it may be loosely described as the full use and utilization of talent, ability, potential, etc. These people seem to be realizing themselves and are doing the best things they can do. They are people who have developed or are developing to the full stature of which they capable.’ Self-actualizing people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, do not care about the opinions of others, and interested in fulfilling their potential.

Goal Setting Theory of Motivation

Goal setting theory of motivation states that specific and challenging goals, and appropriate feedback can help to improve task performance. Goals demonstrate and guide what employees need to do and how much efforts they need to put.

In the 1960s, Edwin Locke proposed the goal setting theory of motivation. The theory states that goal setting is fundamentally related to task performance. In the goal setting theory, goals must be set according to five principles. In order to motivate, goals must have these. The five principles of goal setting theory are clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback, and task complexity.


Clear goals are measurable and definite. When a goal is clear and specific, and there is a clear time setting to complete, there is less misunderstanding about what kind of behaviours will be rewarded. “Reduce job turnover by 15%” or “Respond to employee suggestions within 48 hours” is example of a clear goal.


One of the most important characteristics of goals is the degree of challenge. People are often driven by achievement, and they judge goals based on the importance of expected achievement. Rewards usually increase for harder goals. If you think you will get good rewards, it will increase your enthusiasm and your motivation to complete the task. If a task is easy and not considered very important, and if you or your staffs do not expect the achievement to be important, then the effort may not be impressive.


If the goal is to be effective, it must be understood and agreed upon. If employees think they are part of the creating that goal, they are more likely to achieve the goal. The concept of participative management relies on the idea of engaging employees in setting goals and making decisions.


In addition to choosing the right goal type, an effective goal plan must also include feedback. Feedback provides opportunities to clarify expectations, adjust goals, and gain recognition. Providing benchmark opportunities or goals is important, so individuals can determine for themselves how they’re doing.

Task complexity

The last factor in goal setting theory focuses on task complexity. For very complex goals or assignments, take special care to ensure that the work is not too large.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

Herzberg believes that there are some job factors that lead to satisfaction, while there are other job factors can prevent dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, the opposite of “Satisfaction” is “No satisfaction”, while the opposite of “Dissatisfaction” is “No Dissatisfaction”.

FIGURE 1: Herzberg’s view of satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Herzberg divided these job factors into two categories which are hygiene factors and motivational factors.

Hygiene factors

Hygiene factors are job factors that are critical to motivation at the workplace. These will not lead to long-term positive satisfaction. However, if these factors do not exist at the workplace, then will lead to dissatisfaction. In other words, hygiene factors are factors that are reasonable at work, to appease employees and not to dissatisfy them. These factors are extrinsic to work. Hygiene factors are also known as dissatisfiers or maintenance factors because they are necessary to avoid dissatisfaction. These factors describe the work environment. Hygiene factors symbolize the physiological needs that individuals want and expect.

Hygiene factors include pay, company policies and administrative policies, incidental benefits, physical working conditions, status, interpersonal relations, jobs security. For pay, the pay structure should be appropriate and reasonable. It must be equal and competitive with people in the same industry in the same field. For company policies and administrative policies, the company policy should be fair and clear. It should include flexible working hours, dress code, rest time, vacations, etc. For incidental benefits, medical health plan, benefits for family members, employee assistance programs, and other should be provided for employees. For physical working conditions, the working conditions should be safe, clean and hygienic. Work equipment should be updated and maintained. For status, the status of employees within the organization should be familiar and retained. For interpersonal relations, the relationship between employees and peers, superiors and subordinates should be appropriate and acceptable. There should be no conflict or humiliating factors. For job security, the organization must provide job security for its employees.

Motivational factors

Herzberg believes that hygiene factors cannot be considered as motivators. The motivational factors generate positive satisfaction. These factors are inherent in the work. These factors motivate employees to achieve superior performance. These factors are called satisfiers. These are the factors involved in the implementation of work. Employees find these factors to be beneficial in nature. The motivator symbolizes the psychological needs to be seen as an additional benefit.

Motivational factors include recognition, sense of achievement, growth and promotional opportunities, responsibility, and meaningfulness of the work. For recognition, employees should be praised and recognized by the managers. For sense of accomplishment, employees must have a sense of achievement. It depends on the job. There must be some kinds of fruit at work. For growth and promotional opportunities, organization must have growth and promotion opportunities to motivate employees to perform well. For responsibility, employees must be responsible for their work. Managers should let them have jobs. They should minimize control, but keep responsibility. For meaningfulness of the work, the work itself should be meaningful, interesting and challenging to motivate employees.

Four different combinations can exist at work.

  1. High hygiene and high motivation This is the ideal situation. Employees are very active and there are almost no complaints.
  2. High hygiene and low motivation There are very few employee complaints, but they are not really motivated. They think their job is just a pay check.
  3. Low hygiene and high motivation Employees are motivated and their work is challenging, but they complain about salary or working conditions.
  4. Low hygiene and low motivation This is the worst case, employees have no motivation and a lot of complaints.

Expectancy Motivation Theory

Although Maslow and Herzberg studied the relationship between internal needs and the effort spent to achieve them, Vroom’s expectancy theory separates effort, performance, and outcomes.

Vroom’s expectancy theory assumes that behaviour is due to conscious choices between alternatives, with the goal of maximizing happiness and minimizing pain. Vroom recognizes that employee’s performance is based on personal factors such as personality, skills, knowledge, experience and abilities. He said that hard work, performance and motivation are related to personal motivation. He uses the variables expectancy, instrumentality and valence to explain this.

Expectancy is the belief that increased efforts will lead to improved performance. This is affected by the some factors. First, have the right resources. Second, have the right skills to get the job done. Third, have the necessary support to get the job done such as supervisor support.

Instrumentality is the belief that if you perform well, you will receive valuable results. The first level results will result in the extent of the second level results. In other words, if I do well, then there is something for me. This is affected by some factors. First, clearly understand the relationship between performance and results. Second, believe those who will decide who gets what results. Third, transparency in the process of deciding who gets what results.

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Valence is the importance of the individual to the expected result. In order for the value to be positive, the person must be more willing to achieve results than to achieve the goal. For example, if someone is primarily driven by money, he or she may not value the offer of an extra vacation.

Background of Apple Inc.

Apple Inc. is a multinational company that creates consumer electronics, personal computers, servers, and computer software. It is a digital distributor of media content. The company also has a range of retail stores called Apple Stores. Apple’s core product lines are the iPhone smartphone, iPad tablet, iPod portable media players, and Macintosh computer cable. Founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976, and established the company on January 3, 1977 in Cupertino, California.

For more than three decades, Apple Computer has been primarily a PC manufacturer, including the Apple II, Macintosh and Power Mac series, but it faced huge sales and low market share in the 1990s. After Jobs was ousted from the company in 1985, in 1996, after his company NeXT was acquired by Apple, Jobs returned to Apple. In the following year, he became the interim CEO of the company, and later became permanent. Jobs began with the original iMac in 1998, instilling a new corporate identity of identifiable products and simple design.

With the successful launch of the iPod music player in 2001 and the launch of the iTunes Music Store in 2003, Apple became a leader in the consumer electronics and media sales industry, resulting in the removal of ‘Computer’ from its name in 2007. The company is now also known for its iOS line of smartphones, media players and tablet products, starting with the iPhone, followed by the iPod Touch and then the iPad. As of June 30, 2015, Apple is the world’s largest listed company by market value, with an estimated value of US$1 trillion as of August 2, 2018. Apple’s global annual revenue in 2010 total US$65 billion, and it grew to US$127.8 billion in 2011, and increased to US$156 billion in 2012.

Implementation of these four motivational theories in Apple Inc.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory is being applied in Apple Inc.. Managers in the Apple Inc. have created methods to motivate employees by carefully considering how needs affect job design, compensation, management style and more.

Apple Inc. meets the physiological needs of its employees by providing wages that sufficient for employees to purchase their basic needs. It regularly pays the monthly payment to its employees. It likewise provides employees with some financial incentives such as flexible benefits, investment and savings plans, investment options and stock purchase options. In addition, Apple Inc. provides a good eating environment for employees. For example, the public cafeteria, Caffe Macs, which is a place to eat on campus, offers a variety of quality food. The excitement and electricity level in the cafe are perfect. Every day, at least one of Apple’s top executives will appear in Caffe Macs like Steve Jobs. Apple Inc. also provides good working environment in the aspect of water, shelter and other facilities.

Next, Apple Inc. meets employees’ safety and security needs by providing them job security, retirement benefits and a safe working environment. Apple Inc. provides medical insurance to its full-time and part-time employees who work 15 hours a week and serve Apple for a year since January 2010. It also provides pensions to its employees.

Apple Inc. then meets the social needs of its employees. The company has developed a team atmosphere and ensures that employees know they are a bigger part. For example, from its lack of bureaucracy within projects, to its engineer-focused culture, to its emphasis on passionate and loyal employees, this big company has always maintained the corporate culture of the entrepreneurial era. This culture is an important part of making it so successful, and no surprise, this is a great place to work.

In addition, Apple Inc. meets the esteem needs of its employees by emphasizing self-esteem, respect for others, and praise for hard work. The appraisal system helps to identify individual’s contributions and the importance of celebrating achievements. For example, Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has pointed out that starting in June, employees will receive a substantial discount on Apple products. Employees have already received a 25% discount on Mac and iOS products, but within a few months, they will also receive an additional $500 for Mac and $250 for iPad.

Lastly, Apple Inc. meets the self-actualization needs of its employees. Apple Inc. has broken through the limits of what people have created with technology in everything they done. Steve Jobs helped the company to achieve excellence by helping people create in ways they never had before. As a result, iMacs, iPods, iPhones and iPads have all played an important role in introducing new markets. The self-actualization needs of the company are closely related to the people who guide the ship. For example, the company’s CEO will determine the direction of the company. For instance, CEO Steve Jobs led the Macintosh through its biggest innovation, but when he left, it began to lose its way and market share. After he returned, the Macintosh quickly returned to its original direction and made a profit.

Goal-Setting Theory

Apple Inc. employees are very active in accomplishing their task goals and pointing the way for their work. The proper setup and management of goals within Apple Inc. helps to clarify the performance expectations in the organization. They provide the basis for behavioural self-management. This helps to motivate employees’ job performance and job satisfaction. Apple Inc. always sets specific goals for employees. For example, its 2010 goal is to achieve a 50% global recovery rate. Such specific goals will create high self-efficacy for employees and help to achieve the stated goals.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Herzberg’s two-factor theory is being applied by Apple Inc. Apple’s employees are praised and recognized for their achievements through bonuses and promotions. The work of employees is very meaningful, interesting, motivating and challenging for the performance of employees. Apple Inc.’s compensation structure is appropriate, reasonable and competitive. In addition, it provides employees with a health care plan that provides employees with a safe, clean, hygienic working environment, and updated and well-maintained work equipment.

Expectancy Theory

Apple Inc. uses expectancy theory to motivate employees to achieve measurable, achievable and specific goals. Employees try to improve their job performance levels to get valuable rewards. However, it seems to be idealistic because most people think there is a high correlation between performance and reward. Therefore, Apple Inc. pays attention to each employee and provides them with beneficial benefits. This can improve the performance level of employees even though the rewards are not what employees expect. Apple can ensure that employees can achieve their target performance levels by observing their abilities to improve the company’s operational efficiency.

Effectiveness of the implementation of these motivational theories

Sales Volume and Profitability

Figure 2: Apple’s revenue worldwide from 2004 to 2018.

In 2018, Apple announced that it has the highest annual revenue to date, with revenues of US$265.6 billion. IPhone sales generated about US$218 billion, which means smart devices accounted for an average of about 82% of the company’s total global revenue. In 2017, iPhone sales reached approximately 218 million units, a significant increase from the 150 million units sold in 2013 and the 40 million units sold in 2010. Apple remains one of the market leaders in the smartphone industry.

Employee Satisfaction

People who work at Apple, whether in a retail store or at Apple headquarters, have a hard job. That being said, Apple employees have given feedback that Apple is a good place to work. The Huffington Post ranked Apple 8th as the ‘Top 10 Best Companies to Work for’. Most of the feedback from Apple employees is satisfied with their work. Employees say they like to work at Apple because they feel that their work can have a major impact on others. They like to know that what they do directly affects someone, and they are part of something bigger. Everyone working at Apple is innovative and creative in their own way, and employees feel that they are constantly learning and improving themselves. Contrary to popular belief, many employees say they have a lot of independence and freedom when they work at Apple. Even with part-time employees, Apple’s salary and benefits are good. According to Business Insider, part-time employees who work 20 hours or more a week receive health benefits. A key concept that employees talk about is leadership excellence. The late Steve Jobs was praised for his outstanding leadership.


Although Apple is a great company, it still has many areas where companies need to improve their motivation and reward methods. Apple Inc.’s work environment is less comfortable and satisfying. Therefore, I recommend that Apple Inc. try to provide employees with a more relaxed working environment. Research shows that a relaxed environment can help employees think creatively and innovatively.

In addition, private communication facilities should be installed on each floor of the company to allow employees to resolve their personal affairs. These are some of the features that Google offers. Apple Inc. should use some of the facilities provided by Google to create a relaxed environment for employees, foster their creativity, and reduce their pressure on task completion.

Apple’s secrecy culture may hinder employees’ motivation to pursue work performance. Therefore, it is recommended that Apple should give employees the opportunity to explore themselves throughout Apple Inc.’s operations. For example, Apple Inc. allows employees to participate in the functions of different departments of the company, which can motivate employees to become innovative and enthusiastic about their work. However, these opportunities should only be provided to those who are interested in learning certain skills in the relevant departments.

Because Apple Inc. is more concerned with the hard work and commitment of its employees than building social relationships in the workplace, I am recommend that Apple Inc. should actually host events to improve the relationship between employees. For example, Apple Inc. can held an annual dinner for all employees. This will help build good social relationships between employees. In addition, Apple Inc. can provide employees with 2 days and 1 night travel. This trip encourages the exchange of employees from different departments and helps employees better understand how the company operates in different departments.


Apple Inc. is one of the world’s largest information technology companies with millions of people working at. The company’s success comes from employees who have the motivation to go there. Therefore, motivating high levels of employee performance is an important organizational issue.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in order to increase the enthusiasm of employees, the basic level of employee needs must be achieved before employees turn to more advanced needs. Managers should understand the needs of employees and meet their needs accordingly. Once these needs are reasonably met, employees will work harder and find something creative. This theory plays an important role in the behaviour of incentives.

In addition, the report also pointed out that goal setting is basically related to task performance. A specific and clear goal is a larger factor that will lead to greater output and better performance. The manager should set a specific goal for the employee and reward those who have achieved the goal. Efforts to achieve difficulties and specific goals are a powerful incentive. It can bring higher performance under the right conditions.

In addition, Herzberg’s two-factor theory is also known as the motivation-hygiene theory. It divided job factors into two categories which are hygiene factors and motivational factors. If these factors do not exist, hygiene factors will lead to dissatisfaction, but hygiene factors cannot be considered as motivators. Moreover, the motivational factors are positively met and these factors will motivate employees.

Motivation and rewards play an important role in motivating appropriate employee behaviour. The success of these companies comes from the employees who have the motivation to go there. Sir Richard Branson said that if you are satisfied with your employees, then your customers will be very happy.



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Application of Motivational Theories in Apple Inc.: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from
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