Herzberg Two Factor Theory Essay

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

In 1959, Frederick Herzberg, a behavioural scientist proposed a two-factor theory or the motivator-hygiene theory. According to Herzberg, there are some job factors that result in satisfaction while there are other job factors that prevent dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, the opposite of “Satisfaction” is “No satisfaction” and the opposite of “Dissatisfaction” is “No Dissatisfaction”.

FIGURE: Herzberg’s view of satisfaction and dissatisfaction

Herzberg classified these job factors into two categories-

  1. Hygiene factors- Hygiene factors are those job factors which are essential for existence of motivation at workplace. These do not lead to positive satisfaction for long-term. But if these factors are absent / if these factors are non-existant at workplace, then they lead to dissatisfaction. In other words, hygiene factors are those factors which when adequate/reasonable in a job, pacify the employees and do not make them dissatisfied. These factors are extrinsic to work. Hygiene factors are also called as dissatisfiers or maintenance factors as they are required to avoid dissatisfaction. These factors describe the job environment/scenario. The hygiene factors symbolized the physiological needs which the individuals wanted and expected to be fulfilled. Hygiene factors include:
    • Pay - The pay or salary structure should be appropriate and reasonable. It must be equal and competitive to those in the same industry in the same domain.
    • Company Policies and administrative policies - The company policies should not be too rigid. They should be fair and clear. It should include flexible working hours, dress code, breaks, vacation, etc.
    • Fringe benefits - The employees should be offered health care plans (mediclaim), benefits for the family members, employee help programmes, etc.
    • Physical Working conditions - The working conditions should be safe, clean and hygienic. The work equipments should be updated and well-maintained.
    • Status - The employees’ status within the organization should be familiar and retained.
    • Interpersonal relations - The relationship of the employees with his peers, superiors and subordinates should be appropriate and acceptable. There should be no conflict or humiliation element present.
    • Job Security - The organization must provide job security to the employees.
  2. Motivational factors- According to Herzberg, the hygiene factors cannot be regarded as motivators. The motivational factors yield positive satisfaction. These factors are inherent to work. These factors motivate the employees for a superior performance. These factors are called satisfiers. These are factors involved in performing the job. Employees find these factors intrinsically rewarding. The motivators symbolized the psychological needs that were perceived as an additional benefit. Motivational factors include:
    • Recognition - The employees should be praised and recognized for their accomplishments by the managers.
    • Sense of achievement - The employees must have a sense of achievement. This depends on the job. There must be a fruit of some sort in the job.
    • Growth and promotional opportunities - There must be growth and advancement opportunities in an organization to motivate the employees to perform well.
    • Responsibility - The employees must hold themselves responsible for the work. The managers should give them ownership of the work. They should minimize control but retain accountability.
    • Meaningfulness of the work - The work itself should be meaningful, interesting and challenging for the employee to perform and to get motivated.

Limitations of Two-Factor Theory

The two factor theory is not free from limitations:
  1. The two-factor theory overlooks situational variables.
  2. Herzberg assumed a correlation between satisfaction and productivity. But the research conducted by Herzberg stressed upon satisfaction and ignored productivity.
  3. The theory’s reliability is uncertain. Analysis has to be made by the raters. The raters may spoil the findings by analyzing same response in different manner.
  4. No comprehensive measure of satisfaction was used. An employee may find his job acceptable despite the fact that he may hate/object part of his job.
  5. The two factor theory is not free from bias as it is based on the natural reaction of employees when they are enquired the sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work. They will blame dissatisfaction on the external factors such as salary structure, company policies and peer relationship. Also, the employees will give credit to themselves for the satisfaction factor at work.
  6. The theory ignores blue-collar workers. Despite these limitations, Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory is acceptable broadly.

Implications of Two-Factor Theory

The Two-Factor theory implies that the managers must stress upon guaranteeing the adequacy of the hygiene factors to avoid employee dissatisfaction. Also, the managers must make sure that the work is stimulating and rewarding so that the employees are motivated to work and perform harder and better. This theory emphasize upon job-enrichment so as to motivate the employees. The job must utilize the employee’s skills and competencies to the maximum. Focusing on the motivational factors can improve work-quality.

Learn management concepts & skills rapidly with easy to understand, richly illustrated self-paced learning modules & downloadable powerpoint presentations.
Click below to view DEMO on “Herzberg Theory of Motivation”

Download DEMO Presentation Now!.

As a premium member, you get access to view complete course content online and download powerpoint presentations for more than 120 courses in management and skills area.

Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.

It’s no secret that the success of a company in the field of professional services directly depends on people. Skills, experience, and knowledge of the staff are the main asset of the company. Thus, after setting the goal and object of work, the main task of the manager is to organize the working process, in particular to force employees to work, through motivating them and inducing to action.

Motivation is a way to encourage oneself and others to purposeful action aimed at achieving the goal. It is a certain external factor affecting an individual and his inner state, which increases the desire to work. In the development of business theory, directors and managers have noticed that the material factors do not motivate employees enough. The study of human needs has led to theories based on the assertion that the main motivating factor is not material, but psychological.

The two-factor theory of motivation is the psychological motivation theory, established in late 1950’s by Frederick Herzberg and based on human needs. According to this theory, along with certain factors that cause job satisfaction, there are factors that cause dissatisfaction from work.

At Herzberg’s request, 200 engineers and accountants of a large company described situations, when their work brought them particular satisfaction, and when they did not like it particularly. In the result of experiments, Herzberg concluded that there are two main categories of factors in evaluating the degree of satisfaction from work performed: 1) Hygiene factors, deterring at work (administrative policy of the company, labor conditions, salary, interpersonal relations with superiors, colleagues and subordinates, etc.); 2) Motivators, actually motivating the work (achievement, recognition, responsibility, opportunities for career growth, etc.) (Herzberg 54-60).

Good working conditions (hygiene factors) bind employees to the enterprise, but do not induce to increasing productivity. In their turn, motivators relate to the content of work; increase of productivity and job satisfaction factually depends on motivators. F. Herzberg states that the motivation “switches on” people, generating their interest to work. Success, recognition and challenge are the part of work. The fact that employees do their work and develop is due to the fact that their job allows it. Responsibility increase and promotion is the result of good job. Thus, motivation at work is related to the physical work performed, while negative moments relate to the work environment (Herzberg 95-101).

If a company wants to stimulate an employee, it cannot do this by providing better working conditions. An employee would be encouraged, if he would be given a job, throwing him a challenge and an opportunity to succeed; this allows him to grow and develop. But at the same time, employees would complain about the factors of hygiene, the chief controlling them, conditions of work, low salaries, etc. These are the things making them feel unhappy. Employees do not complain about the lack of motivation, because they are not aware of it. But if a company really needs a good employee, it should give him a job, having good content, allowing to grow, experience difficulties and achieve success (Hansen 64 – 72).

Researches on factors causing satisfaction or dissatisfaction conducted by Herzberg proved that the process of gaining satisfaction and the process of growing dissatisfaction are two different processes. This is confirmed by the fact that factors causing dissatisfaction growth do not necessarily lead to increased satisfaction with their removal, and vice versa (Latham 27-30).

F. Herzberg’s ideas formed the basis for the program of “job enrichment”, which was successfully used by a number of leading U.S. corporations. The development of this program depends on the fulfillment of certain conditions, which are necessary for the success of employees: a) employees should know about the results of their activity and its evaluation; b) employees should have the opportunity of psychological growth; c) employees should form their working timetable themselves; d) employees should bear a part of liability; e) employees should be able to communicate with managers of all levels; f) employees should be accountable for their activities (Sachau 377-393).

The motivation system should provide every participant with an opportunity to choose reward methods in accordance with his personal scale of values. Classic material stimuli in the form of payment and bonuses constrict their effect, yielding place to the expectation of rewards from the work as such, its results and process. However, the fact that money were assigned to the group of hygiene factors, rather than to motivators, was unexpected. In this connection, there typically exist material, labor and status systems of motivation. A striking manifestation of management contradictions is the lack of positive ratio between job satisfaction and productivity of a single employee. Studies have shown that there are no guarantees that less dissatisfied employees work worse than satisfied ones (Sheldrake 153-161).

For applying the theory of F. Herzberg in practice, the two profiles should be constructed by means of sociological opinion poll methods: profiles of working conditions and the content of work on separate parts of an enterprise. After processing the survey data and its analysis, the researcher is usually able to see the weaknesses of production and to develop approaches for addressing them.

The main significance of F. Herzberg’s theory is that managers began to realize that one should not focus on hygiene factors as the main ones in addressing the needs, if the needs of lower levels had already been met (Tietjen 226-231). In general, the influence of Herzberg’s theories with regards to the methods of human resource management applied in companies has become extremely significant and resulted in positive outcomes (the impact varies depending on the country of origin of companies).

F. Herzberg’s ideas contributed greatly to the development of movement for the reorganization of labor, changes within companies and changes in labor relations in most industrialized countries, previously relying on the concept of division of labor by F. Taylor and G. Ford and having a limited view on an individual in the process of work, on his motivation and his expectations. Factually denying the basic Taylor’s and Ford’s conception of human nature, Herzberg persistently reminded that the most powerful stimulus for an employee is the interested towards what he does, his involvement in the labor process, and that an employee is not a machine and finds it difficult to work in organizations alienating him from the results of labor (Sachau 377-393). Frederick Herzberg made possible the new way of thinking concerning the labor process as such and its organization, presenting them depending on the interests of employees to their activity, not only to the amount of their salaries (Tietjen 226-231).

Another important result of Frederick Herzberg’s theory lies in modifying the concept of the division of labor and the unlimited command power of management. Autonomy was again returned to an employee of both high and low qualification. Thus, in addition to working conditions, the organization of labor was also subjected to rethinking. Providing employees with additional opportunities for the organization of activities through monitoring and technical maintenance meant the weakening of the traditional division of labor and denial of Taylor’s “shut up and work” slogan. In this regard, Frederick Herzberg was the initiator of creating more adaptable and more flexible organizations, as well as the so-called network companies.


Works Cited:

Hansen, Frederick, Smith, Michele, and Ries B. Hansen. “Rewards and Recognition in Employee Motivation”. Compensation & Benefits Review 34 (2002): 64 – 72. Print.

Herzberg, Frederick. Motivation to Work. Transaction Publishers, 1993. Print.

Latham, Gary P. Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research, and Practice. SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.

Sachau, Daniel A. “Resurrecting the Motivation-Hygiene Theory: Herzberg and the Positive Psychology Movement”. Human Resource Development Review 6 (2007): 377 – 393. Print.

Sheldrake, John. Management theory. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2003. Print.

Tietjen, Mark A., and Robert M. Myers. “Motivation and job satisfaction”. Management Decision 36.4 (1998): 226-231. Print.

0 thoughts on “Herzberg Two Factor Theory Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *