Herzberg's two-factor theory of motivation

Frederick Herzberg, an American specialist in psychology, conducted a study of a number of employees of several companies in the mid-20th century for motivating and demotivating factors. The recipients of the experiment were 200 specialists in various fields. The results of the experiment formed the basis of his theory of motivation, bearing his name.

Frederick Herzberg's theory of motivation

During the study, he inquired from subjects what conditions provide them with the greatest and least satisfaction from the work process. The results of the survey led the scientist to the conclusion that the level of comfort is not an indicator on the scale between the extreme poles. On the contrary, the growth of dissatisfaction and satisfaction are two different processes. He concluded that the antipode of satisfaction is its absence, and not dissatisfaction. And, accordingly, vice versa. In a practical sense, this means that the appearance / disappearance of factors of one will not necessarily lead to the progress of the other.

The uniqueness of the Herzberg model

Herzberg's theory of motivation considers both processes separately. A number of certain factors correlate with each of them. For example, McClelland’s theory of motivation knows only three of them - power, success, and ownership. And here we are dealing with a much larger number of factors, distinguished also by the nature of the impact.

Herzberg's two-factor theory of motivation - motivation and hygiene

The flesh and blood of the Herzberg model are two kinds of factors called motivating and hygienic needs. We will tell you more about them.

herzberg's two-factor theory of motivation

Motivating factors

Frederic Herzberg's theory of motivation connects the first group of factors with the satisfaction process. In general, he is guided by such things that relate to the internal essence of the work. Among them - and the work itself, as well as some needs. For example, the need for recognition, in trust, in a professional perspective, etc. The nature of all these things has a motivating effect. Therefore, Herzberg's theory of motivation defines them as motivating factors. They directly affect efficiency and productivity.

In other words, these factors in relation to work are internal, substantial. Herzberg’s theories of motivation generally distinguish between external and internal influences.

Hygiene factors

The second group of needs plays a role in the opposite process - dissatisfaction. By their nature, they do not bring satisfaction from work, but significantly eliminate some discomfort. Herzberg's theory of motivation identifies the following factors of this type: level of wages, good working conditions and the like. They are often considered “anesthetics,” or “painkillers,” because of their ability to dull the pain of work. Therefore, according to Herzberg, they are called hygienic.

Herzberg's theory of motivation

So, we can put two groups of needs on one scale in the following order: from minus to zero, hygiene factors will be located. They will not lead to employee motivation, but only relieve them of nervous feelings about one or another external reason related to work. Further, from zero to plus, motivating factors will be placed. They will not save employees from dissatisfaction with certain things, for example, low wages, but they will create an internal motivational core.

General Theory

So, how are Maslow's theory of needs or the previously mentioned McClelland theory of motivation different from Herzberg's theory? Here are the main points of the Herzberg model:

    1. The presence of a clear relationship between job satisfaction and labor performance - efficiency, productivity, etc., is postulated.
    2. The presence of hygiene factors is not perceived by employees as additional motivation. Their presence is not recognized and seems to be taken for granted. In general, these factors should provide normal, acceptable working conditions.
    3. The presence of motivating factors does not compensate for the lack of hygiene needs or compensates for them partially and temporarily.
    4. Therefore, to create the most productive working atmosphere, you must first deal with hygiene needs. When problems with them are resolved, and there are no factors left in the workspace that cause dissatisfaction of employees, you can deal with motivating factors. Such an integrated approach will provide the company with the highest possible efficiency, quality and volume of work performed.
    5. To achieve such a result, according to Herzberg's theory, middle and especially senior managers must understand the essence of the work of employees and understand its essence from the inside. This will help identify their hygiene needs and possible motivating factors.

Critique of Herzberg's theory

The first weak point of this theory is the subjectivity of the recipients of the research. There is a tendency when people associate the feeling of satisfaction from the work done with themselves and their personal qualities. And negative emotions - disappointment, etc., which causes dissatisfaction - with uncontrolled influence from the outside. Therefore, it is not always possible to establish a clear correlation between hygienic and motivating factors, on the one hand, and the state of satisfaction / dissatisfaction, on the other.

herzberg substantive theories of motivation

Herzberg's theory of motivation was tested at some enterprises and in some cases yielded positive results. Nevertheless, not all scientists agree with the conclusions of Dr. Herzberg.

Also, not everyone agrees with him that the material reward for labor is not among the motivating factors. This is especially true for countries with lagging economic development and low living standards. Other factors that Herzberg deprives of motivating status may well be such - this is determined by the needs and requirements of each individual employee, and not by a general pattern.

mcclelland theory of motivation

Among other things, it is not always possible to establish a connection between the level of job satisfaction and labor productivity. A person is a complex psychological phenomenon, and it may become so that other factors, such as communication with colleagues or access to certain information, will provide the employee with high job satisfaction. In this case, indicators of labor productivity and efficiency will remain unchanged.


Be that as it may, one cannot underestimate the positive value of the Herzberg model. If we leave out the scientific debate, in the field of practical marketing this theory may well prove to be useful, you only need to use it wisely.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/A12667/

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