The Two-factor theory (also known as Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and Dual-Factor Theory) states that certain factors in the workplace cause job satisfaction, while a separate set of factors cause dissatisfaction. It was developed by Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist, who theorized that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other.
Fundamentals of the Theory
Attitudes and their connection with industrial mental health are related to Maslow's theory of motivation. According to Herzberg, individuals are not content with the satisfaction of lower-order needs at work such as minimum salary levels or safe and pleasant working conditions. Rather, individuals look for the gratification of higher-level psychological needs having to do with achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, and the nature of the work itself. This appears to parallel Maslow's theory of a need hierarchy (Figure 1).
However, Herzberg added a new dimension to this theory by proposing a two-factor model of motivation, based on the notion that the presence of one set of job characteristics or incentives leads to worker satisfaction at work, while another and separate set of job characteristics leads to dissatisfaction at work. Thus, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not on a continuum with one increasing as the other diminishes, but are independent phenomena.
This theory suggests that to improve job attitudes and productivity, administrators must recognize and attend to both sets of characteristics and not assume that an increase in satisfaction leads to decrease in unpleasurable dissatisfaction.
Herzberg found that the job characteristics related to what an individual does (the nature of the work he performs) apparently have the capacity to gratify such needs as achievement, competency, status, personal worth, and self-realization, thus making him happy and satisfied. However, the absence of such gratifying job characteristics does not appear to lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Instead, dissatisfaction results from unfavorable assessments of such job-related factors as company policies, supervision, technical problems, salary, interpersonal relations on the job, and working conditions.
Thus, if management wishes to increase satisfaction on the job, it should be concerned with the nature of the work itself—the opportunities it presents for gaining status, assuming responsibility, and for achieving self-realization. If, on the other hand, management wishes to reduce dissatisfaction, then it must focus on the job environment—policies, procedures, supervision, and working conditions. If management is equally concerned with both satisfaction and dissatisfaction, then managers must give attention to both sets of job factors.
The two-factor theory was developed from data collected by Herzberg from interviews with 203 American accountants and engineers in Pittsburgh, chosen because of their professions' growing importance in the business world. The subjects were asked to relate times when they felt exceptionally good or bad about their present job or any previous job, and to provide reasons, and a description of the sequence of events giving rise to that positive or negative feeling.
The two-factor theory distinguishes between:
- Motivators (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) that give positive satisfaction, arising from intrinsic conditions of the job itself, such as recognition, achievement, or personal growth .
- Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions) that do not give positive satisfaction, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. These are extrinsic to the work itself, and include aspects such as company policies, supervisory practices, or wages/salary.
Essentially, motivation factors are needed to motivate an employee to higher performance. Hygiene factors are needed to ensure an employee is not dissatisfied. Herzberg also further classified our actions and how and why we do them. For example, if you perform a work related action because you have to, then that is classed as movement, but if you perform a work related action because you want to, then that is classed as motivation.
Implications of Herzberg's Theory
Herzberg's theory attempts to uncover psychological needs of employees and enhance employee satisfaction. In order to apply this theory, employers are encouraged to design jobs that enhance and motivate employees beyond simply meeting a daily or weekly quota. This theory highlights the importance of rewards systems and monitoring when and how employees are rewarded. Herzberg's theory implies that simple recognition is often enough to motivate employees and increase job satisfaction.
Herzberg argues that both motivation and hygiene are equally important, but that good hygiene will only lead to average performance, preventing dissatisfaction, but not, by itself, create a positive attitude or motivation to work. To motivate the employee, management must enrich the content of the actual work they ask them to do.