Herzberg Two Factor Theory

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    - Frederick Herzberg

    Herzberg's motivation-hygiene Theory argues that the two factors, motivation and hygiene, can cause either employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction. According to Herzberg, the different combinations of the two factors can lead to various outcomes in the workplace. Let's take a look.

    What is Herzberg's two-factor theory?

    Herzberg's two-factor theory is a well-known motivation theory in the field of business management. The theory comprises two factors: motivation and hygiene. Motivation factors, such as a sense of achievement and responsibility, aim to inspire and engage employees. Hygiene factors, such as salary and working conditions, are necessary for employees to maintain satisfaction in the workplace. The presence or absence of these factors can significantly impact employee motivation and engagement, and different combinations of these factors can affect the employees' job satisfaction level.

    Imagine you're working in a job where you enjoy what you're doing, feel a sense of achievement, and have a good relationship with your co-workers. These are all factors that contribute to your motivation at work according to Herzberg's two-factor theory. However, if you find that your salary is not enough to cover your expenses and your working conditions are poor, your motivation may decrease despite enjoying your work. This is because the absence of hygiene factors, such as fair compensation and a comfortable working environment, can still lead to job dissatisfaction, regardless of the presence of motivational factors.

    Herzberg's two-factor theory is a motivation theory that suggests that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work are influenced by two sets of factors: hygiene factors and motivators.

    Hygiene factors are basic job necessities, such as working conditions and salary, that, if not met, can cause dissatisfaction.

    Motivators, such as recognition and achievement, drive job satisfaction and motivation. The theory asserts that to improve job satisfaction and motivation, managers must not only provide adequate hygiene factors but also focus on motivators.

    Motivators and hygiene factors combinations in Herzberg's two-factor theory

    Herbzerg's theory suggests that there are two types of factors that affect employee satisfaction and motivation: hygiene factors and motivators. When employees have high levels of both hygiene factors and motivators, they are more likely to be highly engaged and motivated in their work. On the other hand, when employees have low levels of hygiene factors and motivators, they may experience low motivation, high dissatisfaction, and turnover. Let's take a look at more combinations of motivators and hygiene factors:

    1. High hygiene and high motivation: This is the combination that will make employees highly engaged and motivated towards their work.
    2. High hygiene and low motivation: This combination will mean that the employees will still be going to work in the company and achieve set targets to keep their job. However, employees will not be motivated to achieve targets beyond the set expectations.
    3. Low hygiene and high motivation: This is not the best situation for employees to be in. Even though employees may be motivated, if the minimum working conditions are not met, employees may look for another job with better working conditions.
    4. Low hygiene and low motivation: This is the worst combination. This can result in high staff turnover and high work dissatisfaction.

    Herzberg, Two Factor Theory Model, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Herzberg's two-factor theory model

    Example of Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory

    This section will provide an example of how Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory can be adapted and implemented in the workplace.

    In the workplace, hygiene factors can be used to eliminate employees' dissatisfaction with work. Adding and improving hygiene factors may not necessarily lead employees to more motivation, but it can lead to better performance and lower staff turnover.

    In practice, the improvement of hygiene factors in the workplace will look like this:

    • Removing or improving poor business policies

    • Show respect to all employees regardless of their position

    • Offer higher or competitive salaries

    • Implement effective and supportive supervision for all employees

    • Improve working conditions

    • Provide job security

    Additionally, organizations should focus on improving employees' motivation factors suggested by Herzberg. As these are the factors that will lead to employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement towards work.

    In practice, the implementation and improvement of motivation factors will look like this:

    • The organization provides more growth and development opportunities for its employees
    • Recognition of employees achievements and hard work
    • Giving employees more responsibilities than they can handle
    • Assign employees to duties that they enjoy and that are fitted with their skills and experiences
    • Make work interesting and engaging so that employees are motivated towards it

    Herzberg two-factor theory real-life examples

    Let's analyse two real-life examples of Herzberg's two-factor theory:

    1. Google: Google is known for offering its employees high motivation factors such as challenging work, autonomy, and opportunities for growth and development. The company also provides a range of hygiene factors like generous compensation and benefits, a comfortable work environment, and flexible schedules.

    2. Amazon: Amazon has been criticised for poor working conditions, long hours and lack of job security, which fall under low hygiene factors. At the same time, Amazon offers opportunities to work on innovative projects and recognition of good work which are considered as high motivators.

    Advantages of Herzberg's two-factor theory

    The advantages of Herzberg two-factor theory are:

    • Direct focus on employees motivation - Herzberg's theory is focused on factors that cause motivation and prevent dissatisfaction for employees individually rather than concentrating on external factors. This means that by implementing Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory organizations can improve employees' motivation and working environment directly, this will motivate employees to work more efficiently and lower the staff turnover rate.

    • Companies can solve problems faced by employees - The company can focus on solving the dissatisfaction problems of employees. This is because Herzberg's theory provides multiple factors that can cause dissatisfaction such as the absence of hygiene factors as well as factors that cause motivation. By eliminating factors that cause dissatisfaction and implementing satisfactory factors will make employees more motivated towards work.

    • Monetary factors are the secondary focus - Other theories such as Taylor's theory or managers may consider monetary benefits as a primary motivator. However, Herzberg found that monetary benefits may not be as motivational as other factors. In Herzberg's theory salary is named as a hygiene factor. Low salary may leave employees dissatisfied, on the other hand, a higher salary may not necessarily make employees more motivated towards work. Herzberg includes motivation factors other than monetary benefits such as promotion, recognition, interest in work and advancement. These factors according to Herzberg's theory will make employees more engaged and motivated to work than monetary benefits.

    Herzberg's theory, advantages, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Advantages of Herzberg's theory

    Disadvantages of Herzberg two-factor theory

    The main disadvantage of Herzberg's theory is that it does not take into account that people are motivated by different factors and:

    • External factors are not considered - Herzberg's theory does not consider external factors that may have an impact on employees motivation. For example, the competitor's company may pay higher salaries to its employees in similar positions. If the organization does not consider improving this factor it can make employees dissatisfied and decrease their motivation towards work.
    • Employee job satisfaction and their work efficiency are not directly related - Even though all the factors of Herzberg's theory are highly implemented such as a combination of High hygiene and High motivation factors, companies can not reassure that employees will become more productive and efficient towards their work . To put it simply, the theory does not provide a direct guide on how to make employees more productive.
    • Herzberg's theory does not consider differences in people's social and cultural backgrounds - People have different priorities, meaning that they are motivated by different factors.

    Some people may enjoy having a lot of responsibility at work, for others, it may cause dissatisfaction and increased stress. Moreover, some people may value a higher salary than a promotion at work.

    Herzberg's theory, Disadvantages, StudySmarterFig. 4 - Disadvantages of Herzberg's theory

    Advantages and disadvantages of Herzberg's two-factor theory

    The advantages and disadvantages of Herzber's Two-Facto theory can be summarized in the table:

    Advantages of Herzberg's two-factor theory

    Disadvantages of Herzberg's two factor theory

    • Direct focus on employees' motivation
    • Companies can solve problems faced by employees
    • Monetary factors are the secondary focus
    • External factors are not considered
    • Employee job satisfaction and work efficiency are not directly related
    • Does not consider differences in people's social and cultural backgrounds

    What is Herzberg's maintenance theory?

    Herzberg's maintenance theory is part of Herzberg's two-factor theory that focuses on maintenance/hygiene factors.

    These factors do not directly motivate employees, but they prevent dissatisfaction and maintain a certain level of motivation for employees. The absence of these maintenance factors can cause employee dissatisfaction.

    The maintenance/hygiene factors include:

    • Company policy

    • Effective supervision

    • Good professional relationships between employees and employers

    • Interpersonal relationships with colleagues

    • Salary

    • Job security

    • Working conditions

    • status

    Herzberg suggests that maintenance factors should be followed in every workplace to create a suitable working environment for employees. Without these factors, employees will be dissatisfied and there may be a high staff turnover.

    Herzberg Two Factor Theory - Key takeaways

    • Herzberg's theory can be named in two different ways: 1) Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory 2) Herzberg's Two-Factor theory.

    • The main principles of Herzberg's Two-Factor theory are motivation and hygiene factors. Motivation factors are aimed to engage and motivate employees, while hygiene factors do not necessarily motivate employees but the absence of these factors can cause dissatisfaction for employees.

    • The best combination of factors in Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory is high hygiene and high motivation factors which indicates their high presence and the worst combination is low hygiene and low motivation factors which indicates their low presence.

    • The business example of implementation of Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory is to improve hygiene factors by providing job security and to improve motivation factors by providing more growth and development opportunities for employees.

    • Benefits of Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory:

      • Direct focus on employees' motivation
      • Companies can solve problems faced by employees
      • Monetary factors are the secondary focus
    • Limitations of Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory include the fact that the theory is based on the assumption that all employees have the same needs, and that it places too much emphasis on job satisfaction and not enough on external factors, such as economic or social conditions.

    Herzberg Two Factor Theory Herzberg Two Factor Theory
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Herzberg Two Factor Theory

    What are the two factors of herzberg's motivational theory?

    Two factors of Herzberg's motivational theory are motivation and hygiene. The motivation factors aim to motivate and engage employees in the workplace whereas the hygiene factors are the maintenance factors employees can expect at the workplace such as salary or working policies.  

    How to apply Herzberg's theory to the workplace?

    Organisations can employ hygiene factors in a way that removes employees' dissatisfaction at work, e.g. by improving work conditions or offering higher salaries. Additionally, there should be more motivation factors to increase the employees' satisfaction, e.g. growth & development opportunities, recognition of hard work. 

    What is Herzberg's maintenance theory?

    Herzberg's maintenance theory refers to the part of Herzberg's theory that focuses on the maintenance or hygiene factors. These include job security, salary, working conditions, supervision, etc. The theory suggests maintenance factors are important for creating a suitable working environment for the employees. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Salary, working conditions, policies and supervision, and relationships are...

    Achievement, interest in work, responsibility and advancement are...

    Hygiene factors add additional motivation.


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