Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors

How do your employees feel about their jobs? Do they enjoy coming to work each day, looking forward to the opportunity to advance their careers? Or, on the other hand, do they dread the grind of the work week, simply counting down the hours until they are free for the weekend?

Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors

The attitude that your employees hold to their jobs can tell you a lot about the culture of your company and the work environment that is in place. Obviously, you would love to have a team full of people who are happy with their jobs and enjoy the challenge of coming to work each day – however, that reality is not always each to achieve.

In his Motivators and Hygiene Factors, Fredrick Herzberg attempts to pin down exactly what it is that will make employees either satisfied or dissatisfied with their jobs.

Motivators and Hygiene Factors

These points are important to understand because they create a framework for what kind of working environment is likely to promote growth and productivity rather than hostility and mediocrity.

The Factors

To get started, we need to take a look at the factors that have been determined by Herzberg to contribute to satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the workplace. First, a list of factors that promote satisfaction on the part of employees.

  • Recognition
  • Achievement
  • Interesting work
  • Responsibility
  • Growth
  • Advancement

There is really nothing too surprising on that list. It shouldn’t surprise you that employees are going to be more-satisfied with a work environment that allows them to advance into higher positions, feel accomplished on a regular basis, and be recognized for their efforts.

Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction in the Workplace

All of these things are commonly associated with a positive work experience, so it makes sense that they would be considered as positive satisfaction factors.

On the other side of the coin, the list below contains factors believed to contribute to dissatisfaction.

  • Salary
  • Supervision
  • Company policies
  • Job security
  • Relationships with supervisors and other employees
  • Status within the company

The point at the top of the list might be a bit surprising at first, but it really shouldn’t be when you stop to think about it. All employees are going to believe that they are worth more than they are being paid – so, in turn, salary is rarely seen as a positive factor. Everyone wants to be paid more, therefore it is natural to look at salary as a point of dissatisfaction.

The other points on the dissatisfaction list relate in many ways to micromanagement and a lack of trust in the workplace. Employees like to be trusted, and they don’t want someone looking over their shoulder at every turn. When given control of their own responsibilities, dissatisfaction tends to decrease.

It’s Not One or the Other

You probably are thinking of job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction as being opposites – an ‘either or’ kind of proposition. However, according to Herzberg, that is not actually the case. In this theory, it is proposed that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are actually two separate things that are not that closely related. In other words, if your company takes steps to eliminate some of the factors causing dissatisfaction, your employees may be less-dissatisfied – but that doesn’t mean they are actually going to be satisfied with their jobs. This might sound like a semantic point, but it is crucial to building a healthy and productive work environment.

Motivation and Hygiene Factors

For a company to properly motivate its employees moving forward, there are two steps that can be taken. First, the company can work to eliminate job dissatisfaction. Then, once that is complete, the company can work toward promoting greater job satisfaction. In the end, the goal is to create a setting where employees are happy, motivated, and able to perform at their best.

Eliminating Job Dissatisfaction

Not surprisingly, the process of eliminating as much job dissatisfaction as possible is going to come down to addressing the points in the list above. For instance, a good place to start would be to review company policies and eliminate or adjust those that are getting in the way of productivity and happiness. Is there excess ‘red tape’ in your company that is simply causing stress without a real benefit? If so, streamlining the company handbook is a big step in the right direction.

Other basic steps that can be taken toward eliminating dissatisfaction include adjusting wages to keep them in line with industry norms, providing as much job security as possible, enabling all employees to complete meaningful work, and more.

Eliminating Job Dissatisfaction

Overall, the key to this initiative is to strip away as many of the frustrating and counterproductive elements out of the workplace as possible. Free from distractions and points of contention, your teams should be better able to produce great work.

Promoting Satisfaction

With the work from the previous section out of the way, you can now move your attention on to the issue of building up satisfaction. Your employees should now be happier overall with their jobs thanks to the process from above, but that doesn’t mean they will be truly satisfied with their employment.

Promoting Employee Satisfaction

In the quest for satisfaction, you can do a number of different things depending on your business, your teams, and your resources. One simple step is to regularly recognize the efforts of specific team members when they go above and beyond their standard job description. Spreading responsibility throughout the company and making sure that everyone feels they have a vested interest in the business is crucial. If employees in your company wish to move up over time, provide them with the training and resources necessary to make that happen.

It really isn’t much of a secret that employees who are satisfied with their jobs are going to work harder and be more productive. However, you can’t expect them to just be satisfied because they are taking a paycheck home – you need to give them reasons to be motivated and excited each day. Using the factors included in this theory by Herzberg is a great way to move your business in the correct direction from an employee satisfaction standpoint.

Key Points

  • Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory, also known as the two-factor theory, states that there are certain factors in the workplace that cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction and these factors act independently of each other.
  • The factors that promote satisfaction include: recognition, achievement, interesting work, responsibility, growth, and advancement.
  • Those that contribute to dissatisfaction include: salary, supervision, company policies, job security, relationships with supervisors and other employees, and status within the company.
  • In this theory, it is proposed that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are actually two separate things that are not that closely related.
  • The key to eliminating dissatisfaction is to strip away as many of the frustrating and counterproductive elements out of the workplace as possible.
  • Increasing satisfaction can best be achieved by recognizing effort and spreading responsibility as much as possible including providing opportunities for professional development.

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