Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory for Motivation
This article attempts to explain Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory and a little about the background of motivation and about Frederick Irving Herzberg himself1.
Every business wants to succeed. From the smallest companies through to multinational giants, one of the keys to growth and prosperity is the requirement of keeping staff motivated.
There are many misconceptions. Although remuneration is a factor that may entice an individual to a position and keep them returning for a pay cheque, it may not necessarily be a factor that motivates. Just imagine that you were paid well, you had a nice home, a large posh car and could afford more than one holiday annually. This is the dream for many employees. The prospect of achieving that dream can be realised when you are offered a highly paid salary after a successful job interview or promotion. Now, all seems well and no doubt that an individual in this situation will feel like they are living their dream during the weeks and months that follow the increase in income. However, during these months, the person will have gone to work for 5 days per week, spending up to 10 hours each day in their working environment, doing what may be the same or very similar tasks. This person is aware that this is all now part of their life and that this sequence will continue long into the future. This person needs to be motivated. Potentially mental stimulation may need to be factored, but this very much depends on the job. Mental stimulation is a building block towards keeping the motivation momentum rather than a direct requirement of motivation. If the person does not feel motivated, their productivity may fall. If you offered an increased salary, the employee would no doubt accept, but this is likely to only directly increase their motivation to open their pay packet rather than motivate them in their daily tasks and duties. Environments, cultures, rewards, visions, goals with explanations, recognition, career advancement (training etc.) and positive responses to achievements are all potentially much more motivating factors in terms of work place stimulation and gaining/maintaining a high level of productivity.
Some employers may think that reducing workload is a good motivator. This is not necessarily the case unless the workload is a direct contributory factor to stress/pressure at work or is impacting on the safety of the employee or others. Keeping productivity high with clear goals can produce a fulfilled workplace when other basics are present as explained below.
Fredrick Herzberg was a renowned innovator in the way that businesses thought about motivation. He was a psychologist in America (born in 1923) who focussed heavily on the psychology of people in the workplace and in businesses around the world. Herzberg’s initial background in psychology was as much linked to health (specifically mental health) as it was management. Herzberg ultimately focussed on what we know today are exceptional management techniques by utilising his unique skills and experiences.
Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory
The Herzberg Hygiene Theory is a theory of motivation and job satisfaction. This is also termed the 2-Factor Theory in some literature. Herzberg’s theory suggests that there are two sets of factors that motivate people. The two sets of factors are not antagonists of each other (i.e. are not opposing forces), but are simply two sets that lead to satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) in the workplace. The two sets of factors are:
Motivators – These are what management could introduce to jobs in order to stimulate, drive work and increase productivity. Motivators are the satisfiers of the job e.g. achievements, recognition, responsibility, variation, upskilling, complex tasks with rewards etc.
Hygiene Factors – These are what employees fundamentally need to in order to be motivated and allow further motivation. Hygiene factors are not concerned with particular tasks, but should be present throughout all or most tasks. Without the hygiene factors, there will be a lack of motivation – note how this is different to motivators, which are added to specific jobs (or processes within tasks) to motivate and increase an individual’s productivity.
There are three Motivator terms that Herzberg used. These are job enlargement, job enrichment and job empowerment. These are ways in which the actual tasks and routine can be changed to motivate employees.
Job enlargement, as the name suggests, means allowing each member of staff to perform more tasks. Managers need to be careful not to make tasks more demanding unless the staff are trained, equipped and able to cope. Equally the tasks must not be those that would be seen as being at a lower skill/pay grade.
Job enrichment directly involves workers being given more challenging tasks. This will help skill progression and if managed/supervised correctly can lead to the staff having a greater sense of achievement once the tasks are completed.
Job empowerment is where staff are given greater flexibility to choose the direction of their role from simple daily tasks through to medium-term plans about specific tasks they will be involved with and which projects/stages of projects they are involved in. This means that workers can time manage and skill manage so that they can become as productive as possible. Managers must control perceived vs. actual skills and abilities, but overall, when managed correctly, the benefits in terms of whole team motivation can be considerable.
Hygiene factors are the dissatisfiers i.e. not having them would dissatisfy employees, preventing motivation and diminishing the impact of any motivators. Hygiene factors could be as simple as having enough pay to entice the employee to work each day, having a car park near work or at least transport facilities, as well as having sufficient light and fresh air in working environments for each job to be comfortably performed.
This article has covered a considerable amount and hopefully has added elements of our own thoughts and considerations of Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory. This aims to make you think about how you can improve your company’s performance as a manager or answer a question with a little more depth than just the basics in an exam.
Key Points of Herzberg’s Hygiene Theory
The Theory is about motivation and making employees work at their best by keeping them stimulated, motivated and satisfied within the workplace.
There are two sets of factors – Motivators and Hygiene Factors.
Motivators are job specific and allow employees to feel good e.g. recognition, upskilling, increased variation and complexity.
Job enlargement – Give staff more varied tasks.
Job enrichment – Allow staff to do more challenging and rewarding tasks.
Job empowerment – Give workers the power to shape, define and choose aspects of their role
Hygiene Factors relate to the overall daily operation of the company, including the site, facilities, working conditions and culture. These are fundamental elements that allow the seeds of motivation to germinate (‘seeds’ used here metaphorically).
The information here is our interpretation of years of reading, discussion with peers and lectures etc. Theories can be interpreted and digested differently by different people. If your role or exam answer or other task requires specific information, please use the resources that you have been directed to or textbooks where suitable references can be given. We cannot be held responsible for any outcome resulting from you reading, conveying or acting upon any piece of information given on this website. We do however hope that after reading this, we have clarified an important aspect of business and that this will be the next step to your own progression either as a student, manager or business owner. We wish you all the best for the future and thank you for reading this article. There are several textbooks available containing MBA level human resource concepts. Please search the internet or contact us if you would like to be pointed towards any text that we have found useful. Please bookmark or share Bizzle Dizzle if you find it helpful.
1. Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia. Various Authors. (2017). Frederick Herzberg. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Herzberg. Last accessed 12th August 2017.