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Motivation Theory - Herzberg

Author: Jim Riley  Last updated: Sunday 23 September, 2012

Herzberg two factor theory

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.

From this research, Herzberg suggested a two-step approach to understanding employee motivation and satisfaction:

Herzberg two factory theory

Hygiene Factors

Hygiene factors are based on the need to for a business to avoid unpleasantness at work. If these factors are considered inadequate by employees, then they can cause dissatisfaction with work. Hygiene factors include:

- Company policy and administration

- Wages, salaries and other financial remuneration

- Quality of supervision

- Quality of inter-personal relations

- Working conditions

- Feelings of job security

Motivator Factors

Motivator factors are based on an individual's need for personal growth. When they exist, motivator factors actively create job satisfaction. If they are effective, then they can motivate an individual to achieve above-average performance and effort. Motivator factors include:

- Status

- Opportunity for advancement

- Gaining recognition

- Responsibility

- Challenging / stimulating work

- Sense of personal achievement & personal growth in a job

There is some similarity between Herzberg's and Maslow's models. They both suggest that needs have to be satisfied for the employee to be motivated. However, Herzberg argues that only the higher levels of the Maslow Hierarchy (e.g. self-actualisation, esteem needs) act as a motivator. The remaining needs can only cause dissatisfaction if not addressed.

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:

- Job enlargement

- Job rotation

- Job enrichment








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