Two-Factor Theory

Another psychologist, Frederick Herzberg, set out to determine which work factors (such as wages, job security, or advancement) made people feel good about their jobs and which factors made them feel bad about their jobs. He surveyed workers, analyzed the results, and concluded that to understand employee satisfaction (or dissatisfaction), he had to divide work factors into two categories:

  • Motivation factors. Those factors that are strong contributors to job satisfaction
  • Hygiene factors. Those factors that are not strong contributors to satisfaction but that must be present to meet a worker's expectations and prevent job dissatisfaction

Figure 7.5 "Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory" illustrates Herzberg's two-factor theory. Note that motivation factors (such as promotion opportunities) relate to the nature of the work itself and the way the employee performs it. Hygiene factors (such as physical working conditions) relate to the environment in which it's performed. (Note, too, the similarity between Herzberg's motivation factors and Maslow's esteem and self-actualization needs.)

Figure 7.5 Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory

Two-Factor Theory and the Workplace

We'll ask the same question about Herzberg's model as we did about Maslow's: What does it mean for managers? Suppose you're a senior manager in an accounting firm, where you supervise a team of accountants, each of whom has been with the firm for five years. How would you use Herzberg's model to motivate the employees who report to you? Let's start with hygiene factors. Are salaries reasonable? What about working conditions? Does each accountant have his or her own workspace, or are they crammed into tiny workrooms? Are they being properly supervised or are they left on their own to sink or swim? If hygiene factors like these don't meet employees' expectations, they may be dissatisfied with their jobs.

As you can see in Figure 7.5 "Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory", fixing problems related to hygiene factors may alleviate job dissatisfaction, but it won't necessarily improve anyone's job satisfaction. To increase satisfaction (and motivate someone to perform better), you must address motivation factors. Is the work itself challenging and stimulating? Do employees receive recognition for jobs well done? Will the work that an accountant has been assigned help him or her to advance in the firm? According to Herzberg, motivation requires a twofold approach: eliminating dissatisfiers and enhancing satisfiers.