Understanding Sirota’s Three factor Theory

Sirota's Three Factor strategy


Dr. David Sirota, an organization research expert and consultant, after worldwide surveys of millions of workers formed his ‘three factor theory of human motivation’. Dr. Sirota’s theory is targeted at keeping employees enthusiastic which forms the basis of their motivation at workplace.

About the Theory

Sirota formed his theory after several rounds of interviews, case studies, group discussions, and personal observations. He after taking into consideration all these observations published his theory in ‘The Enthusiastic Employee’ in 2005. His ‘three-factor theory’ is based on three basic principles, namely:

  1. Employees have basic demands which organizations must try and meet;
  2. Enthusiasm of employees gives competitive advantage to the organization concerned; and
  3. The objectives of an organization and those of its employees do not contradict.

Sirota argued that employees at the time of joining an organization are highly motivated and enthused. However, this state of enthusiasm gradually wanes as companies fail to offer positive work environment or resort to unfavorable working practices. According to Dr. Sirota the key factor to keep employees motivated is to build enthusiasm among them, and the three factors that build enthusiasm are ‘fairness or equity’, ‘achievement’, and ‘camaraderie’.

Equity implies fair treatment at workplace. Every employee wants to contribute something worthwhile for an organization for which he or she expects recognition, reflected by achievement. In a work place, employees look forward to a congenial environment which exists as ‘camaraderie’.

Fairness or Equity

Humans by nature are pleased by fair treatment. Employees expect that the company they are working for meet their physiological, psychological, and economic demands. While evaluating fairness of organizations Sirota studied its working conditions, work volume, employee compensation, job security, favoritism, and management’s consistency in behavior and communication. A company in its demonstration of equity needs to be fair in offering physiological safety, psychological well-being, adequate compensation, and job security across rank and file.

Physiological safety – Physiological safety aims at creating a safe working environment for all employees. Workplace should be protected from all kinds of occupational hazards and have adequate safety precautions. Safety training at regular intervals for all employees is another way of ensuring physiological security in an organization. It is important to have a reasonable work and leisure balance for every employee in an organization.

Psychological well-being – Creation of an environment of respect should be a concern for companies caring for the welfare of its employees. For employers and managers it is essential to give sufficient autonomy to team members so that they could function independently. Paying attention to employees’ demands and exhibiting interest in their work is a way of boosting their confidence. Managers should recognize the efforts put in by team members and should not hesitate to offer reasonable feedbacks. Members should be treated equally and without any bias. For establishing an environment of equality there should be no demarcation of eating areas and parking spaces. All these endeavors should help in ensuring psychological well-being of employees in a company.

Adequate compensation – Competitive wages is a great motivator for employees. In addition to stable salaries, employers should arrange for performance bonus for all levels. Participation in stock ownership and profit-sharing programs encourages employees to participate in company affairs more willingly.

Job or economic security - Job security is a great source of motivation and enthusiasm for employees. A reasonable level of job security is what average employees expect from employers. In spite of the best efforts of employers, layoffs and voluntary retirements could become the only option for survival of a company. Both of these are last resorts and should be implemented when all alternative avenues fail. When instances of layoffs or VRS arise, such situations should be clearly communicated to members. Employers ideally should offer financial support to staff being laid off. Outplacement support is another way of ensuring job security. The best way for handling layoffs is to ask for volunteers. Voluntary layoff is the best alternative when human manpower needs to be curtailed. After layoffs, employers must protect those staying behind.

Article signup banner


Achievement in any form is a matter of pride for an employee and must be rewarded suitably. Acknowledgement of honest efforts of employees makes them happy and proud to be part of an organizational setup. While evaluating this factor Sirota made extensive studies on work environment, feedbacks, peer and superiors’ participation, and self pride for being part of on organization.

Work environment – Dr. Sirota advises employers to give employees whatever it takes to do a job well. Organization structure should be made as flat as possible reducing hierarchical and bureaucratic pressures. Delegation of task should be done in a manner so as to avoid micromanagement issues. Leadership processes need to be made participative and not authoritative.

Assign for challenging tasks – Tasks should be made interesting so that employees take interest in doing them. Assignments that test the abilities and skills of members are accepted and completed with enthusiasm. Adequate training should be imparted to employees so that they become experts in executing tasks. Hiring right person for the right job is the key to make employees interested and committed. Managers should make team members believe that every individual’s job contributes to company’s growth.

Using recognition and reward – All achievements should be recognized and rewarded. Expectations from a member should be clearly communicated and priorities agreed upon. Criticisms if any should be balanced with sufficient praise. Members from within an organization should be given priority for filling up higher posts.

Formation of an organization of principles and purpose – People are always proud to be part of a company that is trustworthy. For this the company must offer quality service or product and guided by ethical management practices. Principles of an organization should be communicated from top to bottom so that there is complete participation from each member. A respectable company always practices what it preaches.


Interpersonal relationship is a major factor in creating congenial work environment. A working culture that encourages friendliness, co-operation, and teamwork induces enthusiasm among employees. Employers should encourage teamwork, and interactions between different functional groups. Positive behaviors of members should be suitably rewarded.


In a nutshell, Dr. Sirota was of the opinion that the best way to keep employees motivated is to provide them their wants.

Other tools you might find interesting