What motivates workers in their jobs and workplace? To answer this, a psychologist called Frederick Herzberg set out to interview employees in a study done in the 1950s.
He asked them what made them feel exceptionally good or bad about their jobs.
The study revealed insights about job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction leading to Herzberg’s Two-factor theory of motivation.
From his observation, Herzberg differentiated between what he termed as satisfiers and dissatisfiers.
- Satisfiers are motivating factors. These are inherent or intrinsic to the job itself. These elements lead to satisfaction or motivation if well implemented. They are more related to emotional factors that are also found at higher levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
- Dissatisfiers are hygiene factors. These are elements that are extrinsic to a job and have more to do with the work environment than the job itself. They are more related to physiological needs that correspond to the lower needs in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Hygiene factors do not lead to satisfaction or motivation but their absence leads to dissatisfaction.
Each of these two factors can be represented by its own spectrum or continuum. For example, satisfiers (motivators) run from one extreme called Satisfaction to the other extreme called No Satisfaction.
Dissatisfiers (hygiene factors) range from one extreme called Dissatisfaction to No Dissatisfaction.
Satisfiers (Motivators): Satisfaction ↔ No Satisfaction
Dissatisfiers (hygiene factors): Dissatisfaction ↔ No Dissatisfaction
Therefore, in Herzberg’s theory, the opposite of satisfaction was not dissatisfaction but No Satisfaction.
On their own, neither hygiene factors nor motivation factors are enough to provide good job performance.
From applying both motivation and hygiene factors, 4 possible mixes are possible:
- High hygiene/high motivation: the perfect mix, motivated, no complaints
- High hygiene/low motivation: few complaints but not motivated
- Low hygiene/high motivation: motivated but many complaints
- Low hygiene/low motivation: the worst mix, not motivated, many complaints
Here are 8 examples of Herzberg’s hygiene factors in real life.
1. Pay or Salary
You probably think that pay or salary is a job motivator but Herzberg’s theory suggests otherwise.
Pay is extrinsic to the job which makes it a hygiene factor.
If the pay was much lower than what is paid to others for the same job in similar companies, it leads to dissatisfaction.
However, when you fix the problem, dissatisfaction disappears but motivation is not necessarily improved.
2. Quality of supervision
Managers’ role isn’t simply to hire well and then get out of the way.
Instead, they need a hands-on role that ensures their teams work well.
When appropriate supervision is provided, it leads to skill development, reduction of stress, and increased confidence among the workers.
3. Company rules or policies
Policies create an environment for workers to be happy thus preventing dissatisfaction.
These include setting clear goals, recognizing progress, or trusting the workers.
According to Herzberg’s theory, it does not relate to the job itself. Establishing these rules or policies will remove dissatisfaction but not increase motivation.
4. Physical working conditions
This deals with how pleasant the surroundings of the workplace or job situations are.
These conditions cover areas like ventilation, temperature, proper lighting, or sufficient working space.
It also includes cleanliness, drinking water access, and toilet/bathroom facilities.
Some occupations also need special clothing or uniform. These are minimums that workers expect in a job that can help to remove dissatisfaction.
5. Co-worker relationships
Allowing better communication, better bonding, harmony, and trust between colleague leads to fewer frustrations at the workplace.
Possibilities of friction are reduced and workers can better work through their disagreements.
Bottlenecks are easily ironed out and better accountability for responsibilities is made.
6. Job security
Job security relates to how workers feel about their guarantee of permanent employment.
It’s essential for them in order to focus and stay engaged at work otherwise it can create stress and anxiety.
A company makes workers relax and focus on their careers when they provide job security.
This is an example of Herzberg’s hygiene factor that makes employees have no dissatisfaction even though it does not lead to motivation.
7. Fringe benefits
These are extra benefits that are given in addition to a worker’s salary or pay.
It can include paid insurance, retirement plans, medical leave, company car, or stock options.
Fringe benefits can be considered as a way of attracting or retaining talent.
However, according to Herzberg’s’ theory, it is a hygiene factor that acts more as a maintenance.
This is usually a leave of absence that is granted to workers with pay.
It gives workers some opportunities to relax, rest or attend to personal issues.
Another example is maternity leave (and paternity leave) for parents expecting a baby.
While these elements are important for workers according to Herzberg’s theory, they help to reduce dissatisfaction without adding motivation.
To find that elusive path for profits and productivity for your company, Herzberg’s theory proposes a two-pronged action.
It’s all about getting the right mix of the job context (hygiene factors) and the job content (motivators).