Herzberg Theory of Motivation

10/03/2020 4 By indiafreenotes

Frederick Herzberg, a renowned psychologist, introduced his Two-Factor Theory of motivation in the 1950s, revolutionizing our understanding of workplace motivation and job satisfaction. Herzberg’s theory posits that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are influenced by separate sets of factors, which he termed “Motivators” and “Hygiene factors.”


Herzberg conducted a seminal study in the 1950s, known as the “MotivationHygiene” or “Two-Factor” theory, based on interviews with 203 accountants and engineers. Through this study, Herzberg sought to understand the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Two-Factor Theory:

  1. Hygiene Factors:

Hygiene factors, also referred to as maintenance factors or extrinsic factors, are aspects of the work environment that, when inadequate, can lead to dissatisfaction but, when sufficient, do not necessarily result in satisfaction. These factors are related to the context in which individuals perform their work:

  • Salary and Benefits:

Fair compensation and benefits are essential for meeting employees’ basic needs and ensuring financial security.

  • Work Conditions:

Factors such as workplace safety, cleanliness, and comfort contribute to employees’ physical well-being and job satisfaction.

  • Company Policies:

Clear and consistent organizational policies and procedures help establish a sense of fairness, predictability, and orderliness in the workplace.

  • Interpersonal Relations:

Positive relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and management contribute to a supportive work environment and enhance job satisfaction.

  • Supervision:

Effective leadership and supervision provide guidance, support, and feedback to employees, fostering a sense of direction and motivation.

Herzberg argued that while hygiene factors are necessary for preventing dissatisfaction, they do not lead to long-term motivation or job satisfaction. Instead, they serve to maintain a baseline level of contentment and prevent employee dissatisfaction.

  1. Motivators:

Motivators, also known as intrinsic factors or satisfiers, are aspects of the work itself that lead to satisfaction and motivation when present but do not necessarily result in dissatisfaction when absent. These factors are related to the content of the work and the intrinsic rewards derived from performing it.

  • Achievement:

The sense of accomplishment and mastery derived from completing challenging tasks and achieving meaningful goals.

  • Recognition:

Acknowledgment and appreciation for one’s contributions and accomplishments from colleagues, supervisors, and the organization.

  • Responsibility:

Opportunities for autonomy, decision-making authority, and ownership over one’s work, leading to a sense of empowerment and fulfillment.

  • Advancement:

Opportunities for career growth, development, and advancement within the organization, providing a clear path for progression and personal development.

  • The Work Itself:

The nature of the work, including its intrinsic interest, complexity, and variety, can be inherently rewarding and motivating.

According to Herzberg, motivators are the primary drivers of job satisfaction and employee motivation. They tap into individuals’ intrinsic needs for personal growth, fulfillment, and self-actualization, leading to higher levels of engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction.

Implications of Herzberg’s Theory:

  1. Focus on Intrinsic Motivation:

Herzberg’s theory highlights the importance of intrinsic motivators such as achievement, recognition, and responsibility in fostering job satisfaction and motivation. Organizations should design jobs that provide opportunities for employees to experience these intrinsic rewards, rather than relying solely on external rewards or incentives.

  1. Addressing Hygiene Factors:

While hygiene factors may not directly lead to motivation, they are necessary for preventing employee dissatisfaction. Organizations should ensure that basic needs such as fair compensation, safe working conditions, and supportive supervision are met to create a conducive work environment.

  1. Job Enrichment and Redesign:

Herzberg advocated for job enrichment, which involves redesigning jobs to incorporate elements that increase intrinsic motivation, such as autonomy, skill variety, and task significance. By providing employees with meaningful and challenging work, organizations can enhance job satisfaction and motivation.

  1. Recognition and Feedback:

Recognizing employees’ achievements and providing regular feedback on performance are essential for fostering motivation and job satisfaction. Positive reinforcement and acknowledgment of employees’ contributions help reinforce desired behaviors and enhance their sense of value and worth.

Criticisms and Limitations:

  1. Limited Empirical Support:

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory has faced criticism for its lack of empirical support and methodological limitations. Some research findings have failed to replicate Herzberg’s findings, leading to questions about the validity and generalizability of his theory.

  1. Overemphasis on Job Content:

Critics argue that Herzberg’s theory places too much emphasis on job content and fails to consider contextual factors such as organizational culture, leadership style, and individual differences in motivation.

  1. Complexity of Human Motivation:

Human motivation is a complex phenomenon influenced by various factors, including individual differences, social dynamics, and organizational culture. Herzberg’s theory oversimplifies the multifaceted nature of motivation by dichotomizing factors into motivators and hygiene factors.