Herzberg two factor theory



Frederick Irving Herzberg

Frederick Irving Herzberg
(17 April 1923 – 19 January 2000)

Herzberg's Two Factor Theory is a "content theory" of motivation" (the other main one is Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs).

Herzberg analysed the job attitudes of 200 accountants and engineers who were asked to recall when they had felt positive or negative at work and the reasons why.

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”.


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:


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fringe benefits- The employees should be offered health care plans (mediclaim), benefits for the family members, employee help programmes, etc.
  4. Physical Working conditions- The working conditions should be safe, clean and hygienic. The work equipments should be updated and well-maintained.
  5. Status- The employees’ status within the organization should be familiar and retained.
  6. 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.
  7. Job Security- The organization must provide job security to the employees.



Indians prefer long-term job security over salary: Survey

April, 2012: With the market uncertainty, Indian employees are preferring financially healthy companies and long-term job security, a survey says. Long-term job security and financial health of the company are the most-often selected factors by 64 per cent employees, followed by career progression opportunities (50 per cent), says a recent Randstad India report.

Salary and employee benefits, which topped the chart in 2011, has dropped to the third position, it adds. Long-term job security seems to be the top preference in the telecom sector, but not in the automotive sector.

It is not just a matter of High pay packages anymore as majority of Indian employees are willing to compromise on salary provided they have job security and pleasant colleagues at work place, says a survey.

Job insecurity creates dissatisfaction: Study

 MADRID [Spain]: Fears of losing a job erodes commitment to work, besides casting a shadow over many areas of life, including family, health, finances and leisure, a study reveals.

As the fear of unemployment increases, "the level of work insecurity rises, people are less satisfied with their personal, work and family lives and they are less committed to their work," said Amparo Caballer, psychology researcher at the University of Valencia, who co-authored the study.

This analysis also reveals that the consequences of job insecurity are different in each occupational group, the Spanish Journal of Psychology reported.

Three different groups have been identified: blue collar workers, white collar workers and 'professionals'. The first group included people with positions that do not need high qualifications, such as supermarket shelf-fillers or hospital attendants, according to a university statement.

The second group includes office and administration workers and supermarket assistants and check-out staff. The 'professionals' group includes doctors, engineers and nurses.

When there is uncertainty about employment, blue collar workers "are less satisfied with life and they work less productively than the other groups studied", Caballer explained.

White collar workers are the ones who display the most dissatisfaction at times of instability. Upon examining the results of the study, not all employees react to insecurity in the same way. Some groups are more prone to react more negatively to perceiving insecurity at work.

Therefore, the study authors advise against approaching the problems in the same way as with different groups in the company.

The data was based on 321 worker's answers to a questionnaire, which includes 51.4 percent people who worked in hospitals, 25.7 percent had positions in supermarts and commercial distribution companies and 22.9 percent were temporary work agency employees.


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.
A recent poll of over 1,000 full-time employees by Maritz Research found over half believed the quality of their company's recognition efforts impacted their job performance. Respondents who were "completely satisfied" with their employer's recognition programs were more satisfied with their jobs, more likely to remain with the company, and more likely to recommend their workplace to others.

Giving recognition makes employees confident in work: Report

Even as receiving recognition is the usual norm, many organisations are now opening channels for employees to give regular recognition to their co-workers and 90 per cent respondents said by doing so they feel more confident in their work, a report has said."Those who give recognition at work are more confident in their work. About 90 per cent of employees who noted that they always give recognition to employees feel that their work in the past 12 months has represented significant innovations," according to a OC Tanner report.

The report also revealed that 94 per cent of employees noted that they always give recognition to co-workers are proud to tell others they work for their organisation.OC Tanner conducted the study among 3,496 employees, who were over 18 years working full-time at companies with more than 500 workforce, in multiple countries across four continents, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, Singapore and Germany."Creating opportunities for giving, receiving and observing recognition, and devising a programme that focuses on all three, will help organisations increase employee engagement, wellbeing, innovation, work results and revenue," the report said. It said by giving recognition more often, employees not only feel more secure in their present circumstances, but are also more optimistic about their future.
  • The report said that about 89 per cent agree that giving recognition creates a better company culture, while 79 said the giver works harder after they recognise another's achievement.
  • 75 per cent respondents felt that giving recognition makes them want to stay at their current organisation longer.
  • The report said 86 per cent agreed that giving recognition helped them better connect with their colleagues and 81 per cent felt it made them better connect to their organisations.
  • Overall, the report has revealed that employees in the US and the UK give recognition at a higher rate than other countries.
  • Australian, Canadian, and German employees fall in the middle range and while employees in the Asian countries of India and Singapore give recognition the least, it added.
  • 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.
Facts [+]

The 2011 Nielsen survey also showed that the top five dimensions students considered when it comes to seeking employment were high degree of independence at work, salary package, learning on the job, growth prospects and standing of the company in the market [Employer brand] respectively.

  • 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.

Applying Hertzberg's model to de-motivated workers

What might the evidence of de-motivated employees be in a business?

  • Low productivity
  • Poor production or service quality
  • Strikes / industrial disputes / breakdowns in employee communication and relationships
  • Complaints about pay and working conditions

According to Herzberg, management should focus on rearranging work so that motivator factors can take effect. He suggested three ways in which this could be done:

Maslow’s and Herzberg’s Ideas Compared