Make your own free website on

Motivating Organizational Members

Herzberg's Theory of Motivation

The Definition and Role of Motivation
Motivating Your Members
Motivating Guide
Motivational Theories

Herzberg's Theory of Motivation


Interview with Frederick Herzberg

. Motivation-Hygiene Theory
. The motivation of employees is important to organizations since it is one of several factors that significantly affects the productivity of employees.

Raising the level of motivation increases profitability through greater creativity and commitment in employees.

Herzberg's Two Factor Theory, also known as the Motivation-Hygiene Theory, was derived from a study designed to test the concept that people have two sets of needs:


1. their needs as animals to avoid pain

2. their needs as humans to grow psychologically

. Herzberg's Study
...two hundred engineers and accountants in Pittsburgh were interviewed

To test the hypothesis, engineers and accountants were interviewed to assess events that led to significant changes in their job attitudes and to determine the factors that caused those changes

Herzberg's study consisted of a series of interviews that sought to elicit responses to the questions:

(1) Recall a time when you felt exceptionally good about your job. Why did you feel that way about the job? Did this feeling affect your job performance in any way? Did this feeling have an impact on your personal relationships or your well- being?

(2) Recall a time on the job that resulted in negative feelings? Describe the sequence of events that resulted in these negative feelings.

. It appeared, from the research, that the things making people happy on the job and those making them unhappy had two separate themes.

"...the things people said positively about their job experiences were not the opposite of what they said negatively about their experiences...."

(Frederick Herzberg from a 1971 interview in Management Review)

Motivation-Hygiene Theory:

 Five factors stood out as strong determiners of job satisfaction:

  • achievement
  • recognition
  • work itself
  • responsibility
  • advancement

The last three factors were found to be most important for bringing about lasting changes of attitude. It should be noted, that recognition refers to recognition for achievement as opposed to recognition in the human relations sense. 


"...the factors which make people happy all are related to what people did: the job content... what made people unhappy was related to... job environment, job context... the way they're treated."

(Frederick Herzberg from a 1971 interview in Management Review)

The determinants of job dissatisfaction were found to be:
  • company policy
  • administrative policies
  • supervision
  • salary
  • interpersonal relations
  • working conditions
. It appears that the central theme of the satisfiers (also called motivators) is one having to do with the relationship the employee has with his or her job; job content.

The theme of the dissatisfiers appears to be related to the environment or context of the job. These dissatisfiers seem to have little effect on positive job attitudes (in some of the literature, these dissatisfiers were called hygiene or maintenance factors).

. Two Dimensions

"...job satisfaction... and job dissatisfaction are not opposites; they are completely separate continua, like hearing and vision."

(Frederick Herzberg from a 1971 interview in Management Review)

At the psychological level, the two dimensions of job attitudes appear to reflect a two-dimensional need structure:

one need structure for the avoidance of unpleasantness, and

a parallel need system for personal growth

For Herzberg, motivation results from personal growth and is based on an innate need to grow. In other words, people find satisfaction in work that is interesting and challenging. A desire to fulfill our potential drives us to seek growth and provides the incentive to achieve.

According to Herzberg, the idea that the work one does is significant leads, ultimately, to satisfaction with the the work itself. Employees will be motivated to do work that they percieve to be significant.

From a philosophical perspective, it is Herzberg's position that it is the responsibility of society's dominant institutions to provide for the growth and well being of people. In our society, one such dominant organization is the business institution. Therefore it is the responsibility of business and industry to provide the means for growth and self actualization (see Maslow).




when employees do something

" avoid being hurt, that's movement. I called it


when a human being does something, he's motivated. The intiative comes from within...."

Herzberg's theory thus posits that there are two classes of factors that influence employee motivation; intrinsic factors and the extrinsic factors.

The intrinsic factors were also called the motivator factors and were related to job satisfaction. The extrinsic factors were called hygiene factors and were related to job dissatisfaction.

Motivators (intrinsic factors) led to job satisfaction because of a need for growth and self actualization, and hygiene (extrinsic) factors led to job dissatisfaction because of a need to avoid unpleasantness.

The negative or positive KITA or "kick in the a**" approach to employee motivation yields short- range results, but rarely generates any actual motivation. In fact, to call it an "approach to motivation" is to clearly misunderstand motivation as Herzberg understood it. KITA yields movement -- the avoidance of pain -- not motivation.

Positive KITA, in the form of raises and incentives reduces time spent at work, inflates wages and benefits, and overemphasizes human relations.

K-I-T-A techniques fail to instill self-generating motivation in workers. Job content factors, such as achievement and responsibility, are motivators, while job environment factors are hygiene or KITA factors. Motivators are the key to satisfaction.


The desire to fulfill our potential drives us to seek growth and provides the incentive to achieve -- MOTIVATION

In an era of increasing competition, it is important for organizations to effectively utilize all available resources; including human resources.

In the workplace, the motivation of employees is important to the organization as it is one of the variables that affects the employee productivity.

Fundamental to Herzberg's position is the notion that motivation is a result of personal growth and is based on an innate need to grow. What this means is that people find satisfaction in work that is interesting and challenging.

Workers with greater ability have an opportunity to demonstrate their potential and are better utilized by allowing them to use more of their talents


If you cannot challenge workers, motivational problems will result


If you want people to do a good job for you, give them a good job to do

JOB ENRICHMENT: The idea of job enrichment is probably the most significant contribution of Herzberg's theory.

Meaningful tasks allow for growth, and job enrichment is a relatively simple method for facilitating this growth:

  • adding different tasks to a job to provide greater involvement and interaction with the task.

Adding tasks can raise the level of challenge in any particular job to a level commensurate with the abilities of an employee. It might be argued that, if a job can not be enriched and it is not challenging to the person in that position, then that person ought to be replaced by someone who will find the job challenging.

Examples of vertical job loading:
  • increasing accountability
  • removing controls
  • making periodic reports available to workers
  • granting job freedom
  • granting job authority
  • introducing new and challenging tasks
  • assigning specific or specialized tasks
JOB LOADING: There are two forms of job loading.
  • Horizontal job loading: adding tasks to a job but not adding any responsibility or challenge -- the meaningless of the job is simply increased. Horizontal loading ought to be avoided!
  • Vertical job loading: adding meaningful tasks that will lead to growth -- additional tasks that permit growth and provide motivating factors.


It is the responsibility of management to create an environment that encourages employee growth and self actualization...


By providing motivators and removing hygienes, management can facilitate the growth of employees. This is essential to both the individual and the organization.Growth makes the employee more valuable to the organization because of his/her ability to perform higher order duties. cannot really motivate employees, it can only create the environment in which the employees motivate themselves

Pay is not the most important thing in "job satisfaction"; personal satisfaction, feeling appreciated, and a feeling of doing something worth while all out rank pay as the reason employees stay in their present job. Critics of Herzberg's theory argue that the sample population was small and limited to a group of professionals. Numerous replication studies have been performed to check the validity of the original results. Mostly, the results are comparable to the results obtained in the original experiment and indicate that motivators are the primary cause of job satisfaction.

There is also the criticism that the study applies only to middle management professionals (the original sample consisted of 200 middle management professionals).

However, an application of Maslow's concepts suggests that people work to achieve what they do not have. As such, the set of  motivators can differ from person to person.   Instead of saying that Herzberg’s findings only apply to middle level professionals, it would be more correct to say that Herzberg’s findings apply to people that have needs and wants similar to the test subjects.

When attempting to motivate employees, it is important to know their needs. Effective motivation results from a  determination of what will motivate employees and then providing the factors that address those needs.


Previous               Next