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Herzberg's motivation — hygiene and two-factor theory

As part of his research, Herzberg conducted a study asking people when they felt particularly good or exceptionally bad at their jobs. Using the data, Herzberg proposed that the factors which motivate people are different from the factors that demotivate people at work. Herzberg referred to the demotivating factors as hygiene factors. Herzberg contended that improvement in hygiene factors does not lead to motivation. However, it may avoid demotivation. This implies that a lack of good hygiene will cause demotivation.

For example, in most organizations in India, lunch is served at the premises and is usually subsidized by the employer. Almost everyone complains about food at the cafeteria. It's a source of much debate. Improving food quality and options often helps reduce heartburn (literally) for the employees, but it would not lead to motivation or higher performance on the job. If the food is made extremely well, like a gourmet chef cooking your choice at Google in Silicon valley, it'll be appreciated but it may not have a real impact on performance, as it doesn't really generate any extra motivation. If the food quality at the cafeteria keeps deteriorating, or leads to health issues, it will create dissatisfaction among the employees. If the organization takes away the lunch option entirely, and every employee has to either go out for lunch or arrange for lunch delivery himself or herself, it will surely lead to dissatisfaction.

Consider another case of additional responsibility, where responsibility also includes authority and more freedom. Additional responsibility given to someone often motivates them and can lead to better performance. Taking away responsibility will have the exact opposite effect. The employee will have a loss of power and this may have an adverse effect on performance.

Like one of the ex-managers once told me, "I'm not upset, but that doesn't mean I'm happy". Because an employee may not necessarily be dissatisfied, doesn't mean he is satisfied.

Herzberg listed the following factors in each category:

Motivators

Hygiene factors

Achievement

Company policy

Recognition

Supervision

Work itself

Relationship with your manager

Responsibility

Working conditions

Advancement

Salary

Growth

Relationship with co-workers

Security

This list may not be completely agreeable, and the order of priority certainly does change, given a specific industry and nature of work. However, most of it holds true as it appeals to basic human traits.

For yourself, try the exercise and list when you were most satisfied and most dissatisfied at work.

In the last 5 years of work, I felt most satisfied when:

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

In the last 5 years of work, I felt most dissatisfied when:

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

 

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