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Unleashing People Power: Exploring Sirota’s Engagement Model through Maslow’s Lens

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Abstract prepared by GPT4

This article explores the synergy between Sirota et. al.’s (2005) Employee Engagement model, which emphasises equity, camaraderie, and achievement in the workplace, and Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs. Aligning these models reveals that Maslow’s physiological and safety stages correspond to Sirota’s equity concept, Maslow’s belonging and social needs align with Sirota’s idea of camaraderie, and Maslow’s self-esteem and self-actualisation stages relate to Sirota’s notion of achievement. The combined use of these models offers a more extensive understanding of employee motivation and engagement in an organisational context. Additionally, other frameworks like Goulston’s (2010) Persuasion Cycle and Lencioni’s (2002) Five Dysfunctions of a Team are discussed for potential contributions to understanding Sirota’s model. Ultimately, the article highlights the importance of high morale in organisations for success, validated through employee satisfaction and improved public interactions. It encourages a multi-framework approach to explore organisational situations, allowing for a deeper level of insight.


An intriguing practice stemming from constant note-taking is the search for connections between ideas, statements, and claims within notes. This encourages critical thinking and allows a deeper understanding of the subject matter. In this article, discussion focuses on the synthesis of two frameworks that, when applied together, potentially provide greater clarity and insight.

Employee engagement model

The first framework is the Employee Engagement model from Sirota et. al (2005)[^1], which posits three primary goals pursued by people in the workplace: equity, achievement, and camaraderie. Termed the Three-factor Theory of Human Motivation in the workplace, these goals stem from decades of industry experience and research. Sirota et. al (2005) [^1] stress that their theory is only focused on the workplace and acknowledge there is more to life than work. So, despite the theory not being intended to define all areas of human motivational theory, utilisation of other frameworks may assist in understanding the Sirota (2005)[^1] theory more deeply.

Figure 1: Sirota’s Three Factor Theory

Figure 1: Sirota's Three Factor Theory
Source: Adapted by the author from Sirota, Mischkind, and Meltzer (2005)

Despite the emphasis by Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] on the workplace, it is also arguable that this framework could be used in volunteer community organisations as a useful tool. The dynamics of volunteers within a community based volunteer organisation could be regarded as having many aspects in common with a formally structured workplace.


The first component of Sirota’s (2005)[^1] theory is Equity and refers to employees’ desire for fair treatment in relation to employment conditions. However, it could be argued that fairness is subjective and depends on individual perceptions. Discrepancies between parties can sometimes only be resolved through conflict resolution. Equity’s subjective nature renders it a challenging component to measure or evaluate within the workplace, posing difficulties for human resources personnel, managers, and leaders alike. Instances of individuals perceiving inequitable treatment are abundant, while others deem their treatment fair. This phenomenon also occurs in courts where daily victories and losses lead to feelings of being treated inappropriately or inequitably.

In employment arrangements, the key is to listen and understand the aggrieved person’s perspective. The subjective nature of perceived inequity often revolves around perceptions, which must be acknowledged as real to those who hold them. Addressing these issues can be achieved through change management principles and frameworks such as Goulston’s (2010)[^2] Persuasion Cycle. Ultimately, effective listening remains crucial in tackling perceptions of inequity.


Achievement encompasses pride in one’s accomplishments and recognition for them and is the second component of the Employee Engagement model. Unlike equity, achievement is less subjective and can be measured through metrics such as career history, pay rises, promotions, and job titles. The longer an individual is a part of an organisation or community group, the more history accumulates on them, creating a measurable record of their achievements. It is a justifiable proposition to suggest that achievement also encompasses individuals taking advantage of the chance to acquire new skills and abilities upon being provided, and if they enthusiastically embrace these prospects to fulfill their utmost capabilities in both the internal and external realms of the organisation.


Camaraderie, the third component in the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model, involves warm, cooperative relationships with others in the workplace. This can be observed through interpersonal interactions among people. Whilst not something that can be necessarily measured with metrics, it can be usually be evaluated by observation. Camaraderie is not only essential for harmonious working relationships, but also critical for an organisation’s success. Trust, another vital aspect of camaraderie, has been emphasised in various business consulting discussions. Lencioni (2002)[^3] identifies trust as the foundation of his pyramid model on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, as without it, progress to and ability to engage in and resolve conflict, accept accountability, make commitments and achieve results is unattainable. All these aspects of team building can be encompassed under the term camaraderie.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Visualising the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model as a pyramid with equity at the base, camaraderie in the middle, and achievement at the top allows for direct comparison with the Hierarchy of Needs model by Maslow (1943)[^4]. It could be argued that the bottom levels of Maslow’s hierarchy – physiological and safety needs – correspond with Equity needs of Sirota et. al (2005)[^1]. The next level up in Maslow’s model – belonging and social needs – aligns with camaraderie in Sirota’s engagement model. Lastly, self-esteem and self-actualisation in Maslow’s hierarchy relate to achievement in Sirota’s model.

Figure 2: Sirota Employee Engagement Model meets Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Figure 2: Sirota Employee Engagement Model meets Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Source: Created by the author from Sirota (2005)[^1] and Maslow (1943)[^4]

Although the arrangement of the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model has been changed from how it was initially presented there are reasons for considering such a shift. Maslow (1943)[^4] argues that his model has the pre-condition that one need must be fulfilled in order for the individual to pursue the needs of the next level. Whilst he does offer a number of potential variations on this theme, the central hypothesis is that the needs are in an hierarchical order.

On this basis, it is also arguable that the model by Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] is also hierarchical in nature. If people feel they are being treated unfairly, it is unlikely that their relationships with others will be pleasant, particularly if the perpetrators of the perceived inequitable treatment is the group or some individuals within. Therefore, people will need to have their Equity needs met in order to advance to the Cameraderie needs.

If the Cameraderie needs are then met, which could compare with Maslow’s (1943)[^4] needs of Love and Belonging, it should then be possible to move on to the Sirota et al. (2005)[^1] level of Achievement, characterised by Maslow (1943) as Esteem and Self Actualisation.

The synergy between these two models highlights their complementary nature. While the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model focuses on employee engagement in the workplace, Maslow’s (1943)[^4] hierarchy addresses broader human motivational needs. Overlaying the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model with Maslow’s (1943)[^4] hierarchy can enhance understanding of peoples’ motivation and engagement within the organisational framework.

Other frameworks

Two other frameworks have been mentioned specifically within this article. They are the Persuasion Cycle (Goulston, 2010)[^2] and the Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni, 2002) [^3]. Both of these frameworks can also be potentially used in deepening an understanding of the Sirota et. al (2005)[^1] model. Understanding organisational dynamics as they relate to people is critical to the success of any organisation. Many times we hear of the term morale in regard to organisations and teams. It is considered that the morale of an organisation is high when all the needs of the various frameworks discussed have been met.

Flow-on effects

The success of any organisation, be it for profit or a community volunteer group, is arguably the result of the morale of the people involved. Apart from the achievements and self-actualisation in the two models discussed, it is worth considering the flow-on effects. When people are happy, customer service and other interactions with the public are improved. Successful interactions can result in word-of-mouth referrals and enhancement of credibility in the eyes of the community. Employees and volunteers can feel justifiably proud of their contributions to the organisation and the part they play. All of these factors can inform feedback loops around the operations of the organisation.


The utilisation of frameworks is a useful way to communicate concepts and ideas to people. They allow focus on particular aspects and creation of questions to generate feedback and information on organisational dynamics. As this article has demonstrated, frameworks can work synergistically with others, potentially resulting in insights that may not normally be achieved using a singular model. As a result, it may well be worth asking the question of what models and frameworks you can use to explore situations as opposed to selecting a singular framework.

Bonus Video


[^1]: Sirota, D, Mischkind, L, & Meltzer, M 2005, ‘The enthusiastic employee: How companies profit by giving workers what they want’, January 1.
[^2]: Goulston, M 2010, Just listen: discover the secret to getting through to absolutely anyone, American Management Association, New York.
[^3]: Lencioni, P 2002, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable’, January 1.
[^4]: Maslow, AH 1943, ‘A theory of human motivation’, Psychological Review, Vol. 50, No. 4, pp. 370–396, American Psychological Association, US.


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