Motivation-Hygiene Theory


Frederick Herzberg, Motivation-Hygiene Theory [1959]

Herzberg identified two separate and distinct types of needs:

  • Motivation factors: Related specifically to the job itself – for instance, the nature of the work, the challenge inherent to the work, and/or the perceived or real value of the work.
  • Hygiene factors: Related to everything else an employee might experience in the workplace – everything associated with the work, but not the work itself.  This includes – but is not limited to – pay, benefits, nature of supervision, relationships with co-workers and so forth.

Dubbed “The Father of Job Enrichment,” Herzberg distinguished between factors that can generate positive feelings about the work (the motivation factors) and the factors that can result in negative feelings about the work (hygiene factors).  So, although unacceptable motivation factors won’t cause an employee to be unhappy at work, unacceptable hygiene factors could.  Conversely, acceptable or positive motivation factors will cause an employee to be happy at work, but acceptable or positive hygiene factors won’t.  However, motivation factors will have a positive impact on an employee’s motivation level if, and only if, hygiene factors are acceptable.

Herzberg’s theory challenged employers – and Human Resource Departments – to look at employee’s satisfaction at work in a completely new and different way.  No longer was job satisfaction viewed as existing along a single continuum. Herzberg transformation-ally defined it as a function of two related, but wholly different,factors – both of which warranted attention.

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