Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory, also known as the two-factor theory or the dual-factor theory, is one of the most influential theories of human motivation in the workplace. It was developed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg and his colleagues in the 1950s and 1960s, based on interviews with hundreds of employees about their job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The theory proposes that there are two sets of factors that influence job satisfaction: motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators are factors that are related to the intrinsic nature of the work itself, such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, and advancement. Hygiene factors are factors that are related to the extrinsic conditions of the work environment, such as salary, supervision, company policy, and interpersonal relationships. According to Herzberg’s theory, motivators increase job satisfaction, while hygiene factors prevent job dissatisfaction.
What are Hygiene Factors?
Hygiene factors are also known as dissatisfiers or maintenance factors. They are the basic requirements that employees expect from their work environment. They do not motivate employees to perform better or to grow, but they can cause dissatisfaction if they are absent or inadequate. Some examples of hygiene factors are:
- Salary: The amount of money that employees receive for their work. It is often considered as the most important hygiene factor, as it affects the employees’ ability to meet their physiological and safety needs.
- Supervision: The quality and style of management that employees experience from their superiors. Employees expect fair, supportive, and competent supervision that does not interfere with their work.
- Company policy: The rules and regulations that govern the organization and its employees. Employees expect clear, consistent, and reasonable policies that do not create unnecessary obstacles or conflicts.
- Working conditions: The physical and psychological aspects of the work environment, such as safety, cleanliness, noise, temperature, lighting, and equipment. Employees expect comfortable and conducive working conditions that do not pose any health or safety risks.
- Interpersonal relationships: The social interactions that employees have with their co-workers, subordinates, and superiors. Employees expect respectful, friendly, and cooperative relationships that do not cause any stress or conflict.
How to Improve Hygiene Factors?
According to Herzberg’s theory, improving hygiene factors can prevent job dissatisfaction, but it cannot increase job satisfaction or motivation. Therefore, managers should ensure that hygiene factors are at an acceptable level for their employees, but they should not rely on them as a source of motivation. Some ways to improve hygiene factors are:
- Salary: Managers should pay their employees fairly and competitively according to their skills, experience, and performance. They should also provide regular raises and bonuses to reward their employees for their contributions.
- Supervision: Managers should adopt a democratic and participative style of leadership that involves their employees in decision making and problem solving. They should also provide constructive feedback and recognition to their employees for their achievements.
- Company policy: Managers should review and revise their company policies to make them clear, consistent, and reasonable. They should also communicate their policies effectively to their employees and solicit their feedback and suggestions.
- Working conditions: Managers should ensure that their work environment is safe, clean, and comfortable for their employees. They should also provide adequate resources and equipment for their employees to perform their tasks efficiently and effectively.
- Interpersonal relationships: Managers should foster a positive and supportive organizational culture that encourages teamwork, collaboration, and communication among their employees. They should also resolve any conflicts or grievances that arise among their employees promptly and fairly.
Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory is a useful framework for understanding how different factors affect job satisfaction and motivation in the workplace. According to the theory, extrinsic motivation is related to hygiene factors, which are the basic requirements that employees expect from their work environment. Hygiene factors do not motivate employees to perform better or to grow, but they can cause dissatisfaction if they are absent or inadequate. Therefore, managers should ensure that hygiene factors are at an acceptable level for their employees, but they should not rely on them as a source of motivation. Instead, managers should focus on improving motivators, which are the factors that are related to the intrinsic nature of the work itself. Motivators increase job satisfaction and motivation by fulfilling the higher needs of employees, such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, and advancement.
According to Simply Psychology, Herzberg’s theory has been widely used in management practice and has influenced many other theories of motivation. However, it has also been criticized for its methodological limitations, its oversimplification of human behavior, and its lack of generalizability across different cultures. Therefore, managers should use Herzberg’s theory with caution and consider other factors that may affect employee motivation in different contexts.