13 Factors of Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Fredrick Herzberg was an American psychologist whose research made him one of the most influential figures in the field of business management.

Fredrick Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, or ‘Two-Factor Motivation,’ as it is sometimes described, examines the factors that motivate employees at work, and also compares these factors to areas that de-motivate employees. Herzberg discovered that the two types of motivation are not the same thing. Herzberg’s research involved questioning over 1,700 employees to arrive at his findings.

What Is The Thinking Behind Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory?


To illustrate the idea behind Herzberg’s theory, I’ll first walk you through an example that is not related to employment:

Imagine that you are planning on purchasing a new house. Before making your purchase, you decide to write-up a list of all the features you’ll want the house to have to make it the perfect home. When you have completed writing your list, it looks something like this:

  1. The house needs to be the right price so that you can afford to make the purchase, and still, have money left over to allow you to lead a happy and active social life.
  2. You want the property to be close to excellent shopping facilities, but also somewhere where you can head into the country to enjoy your cycling passion.
  3. You are not a keen gardener, so you’d like the property to have a low maintenance garden already in place.
  4. You are also not a fix-it kind of person so you’d like the house to be ready to move into without lots of DIY jobs being required.

Three months later…

Three months have passed since you composed your list and you have moved into the house of your dreams. You were delighted to find a home that checked every single item in your inventory.

Five months later…

After living in your new home for two months, you have discovered the following aspects that you don’t like about your new property:

  1. In the evenings, the road outside your house is very noisy. It’s a hectic road, and the constant sound of traffic is irritating.
  2. You have discovered that on windy days, two of the windows rattle loudly in their frames.
  3. Half a mile from your new home there is a food processing plant, and on certain evenings you can smell the scent of smoked fish which becomes quite overpowering.

How Does Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory Compare to The House Purchase Experience Above?

Fredrick Herzberg observed that employees had reasons for being motivated to do their jobs, and he also noticed that the features that made them feel dissatisfied were not related to the elements that motivated them in the first place.

The same observations can be made from the home purchasing process above. According to the first list of ‘ideal’ requirements, the second list of considerations which caused dissatisfaction was not related at all.

Herzberg began to realize that employees in all places of work go through the same cycle. The employees have factors that motivate them, and they also have elements at work that make them feel de-motivated, and these factors lead to dissatisfaction at work. Plus, the de-motivating factors have nothing to do with the factors that generate the positive motivation.

Herzberg Realised That Employers Were Trying to Motivate Employees the Wrong Way


Fredrick Herzberg looked at the ways that companies were trying to motivate their staff when they were becoming dissatisfied with their work. The companies were looking to improve the factors in the “wrong list” and were failing at motivating their employees.

In the house buying lists above, the second list is the correct list to look at regarding making the house buyer a happier person. If those niggling, annoying factors could be eradicated, then the house buyer would finally be satisfied with their new house.

Two-Factor Motivation

The reason that Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory is often referred to as: “Two-factor Motivation” is that of the two separate lists that make up Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction. Just like the house buyer, the two lists are different. To motivate employees we therefore also need two separate lists.

The ‘Two Factors’ Lists Are Shown Below:

13 Factors of Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Factors for Job Satisfaction:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. The work itself
  4. Responsibility
  5. Advancement Opportunities
  6. Growth

Factors for Dissatisfaction:

  1. Company policies
  2. Supervision
  3. Relationship with supervisor and colleagues
  4. General working conditions
  5. Salary
  6. Status
  7. Security

The second list above forms what Herzberg called the “hygiene factors.” It is the items in this second list that need addressing first to begin the process of improving employee motivation and happiness (just as with the house purchase example above.)

For companies to develop employee motivation, they must first work to improve the Factors for Dissatisfaction and then look to enhance the factors of Job Satisfaction – in that order.


Step One: How to Eliminate Factors for Dissatisfaction – (Has to Be Completed First)

  • Examine and correct poor company policies that make employees lives unpleasant or restricted.
  • Change the supervision structure so that the supervisors support employees rather than act like guards.
  • Create a work culture where all employees at all levels respect each other and treat each other with dignity.
  • Ensure that wages are not only competitive but that personnel doing similar roles receive similar pay.
  • Job status can be improved in every role by ensuring that tasks are given that have importance and meaning.
  • Provide job security by ensuring that all roles are essential to the overall goals of the company.

Step Two: Create Working Conditions That Improve Job Satisfaction

  • Provide opportunities for all employees that allows them to achieve meaningful goals.
  • Recognize that employees’ work efforts are valuable contributions to the company’s overall aims.
  • Match employees skills and abilities to the work that is allocated to them.
  • Give all team members maximum responsibilities so that they feel fully part of the operation.
  • Create an active internal promotion structure so that employees can work towards improving their positions.
  • Provide ample training opportunities so that employees can gain the qualifications and experience to work their way up the promotion ladder.

This Video Explains Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory (Video Length: 7:23)


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