Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 5: Motivation

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Fredrick Herzberg's (1959)

This theory is also called as Motivation-Hygiene Theory, Bi-Model Theory of Motivators and Hygienes.

Herzberg’s motivation theory emerged from a collection of data gathered by the interview of 203 accountants and engineers within the Pittsburgh area. The interview process consisted of asking the respondents to describe a work situation where they felt very happy as well as very unhappy. These descriptions were to include as many details as possible, including their feelings, the interpretation of the situation as well as the events that are suggestive of a change.

Herzberg found that the factors that lead to job satisfaction are different and separate to those that may lead to job dissatisfaction. He found that the growth needs, or the highest level of needs, are the only real motivators of employees. The analysis of the responses confirmed the proposed hypothesis, where some factors where contributors to job satisfaction, while others were not. These were categorized as “Motivators” and “Hygiene” factors. The motivators are primarily related to the nature of work whereas hygiene factors are primarily related to the environment in which work is performed. Employees are motivated by the existence of the motivating factors, but are only dissatisfied, not unmotivated, by the hygiene factors.

Conclusions of Study

  1. There are set of extrinsic factors (job context) which result in dissatisfaction among employees when conditions are not present, if present this does not necessarily motivate employees. These conditions are Dissatisfiers or Hygiene factors. Since, they are needed to maintain at least a level of “no dissatisfaction”. They include – Salary, Job Security, Working Conditions, Status, Company Procedures, Quality of Technical Supervision, Quality of Interpersonal Relations among Peers, Superiors and Subordinates.
  2. There are set of intrinsic factors (job content) which result in high satisfaction among employees when conditions present which lead to high motivation and good performance, if factors re not present job not prove highly satisfying means there is no job satisfaction. These factors Herzberg called as Motivator or Satisfiers.

Table 1: Two Factor Theory Examples

Motivators / Satisfiers / Job Content Factors

Hygiene / Maintenance Factors / Job Context

Achievement : Reaching or exceeding objectives

Salary and Benefits : Basic Income, holiday entitlement etc

Recognition : Acknowledgement of achievement by others enhances self esteem

Working Conditions : Working hours, workplace layout, facilities, equipment

Job Interest : A task that provides positive, satisfying pleasure

Company Policy : Rules and regulations, formal and informal

Responsibility : Exercising authority, leadership, risk-taking, decision-making and self direction raise self esteem

Status : Rank, authority, relationship to others reflecting acceptance by others

Advancement : Promotion, progress and rising rewards for achievement and the feeling that advancement is possible

Interpersonal Relations : includes both job related interactions and social interactions within the work environment.

Possibilities of Growth : actual learning of new skills, with greater possibility of advancement within the current occupational

Supervision and Autonomy : Extent of control individual has over content and execution of job

Work itself : The actual content of the job and its positive or negative effect upon the employee

Office Life : Interpersonal relationships


Personal Life


Job Security

So Herzberg suggested that motivators and hygiene factors can be applied to understand the factory workers in most countries and cultures.

Implications of the Two-Factor Theory

In order to do this and to address the different types of factors, a manager might want to consider the following: 

  • Remove some job controls. 
  • Increase worker accountability for their own work. 
  • Give workers complete units of work to produce. 
  • Give greater job freedom or additional authority to workers. 
  • Make periodic reports directly to the workers (not through the supervisor). 
  • Introduce new and more difficult tasks. 
  • Assign specialized tasks to workers so they can become experts. 

Herzberg (1959) stated that other than looking to remove hygiene factors, increasing the amount of motivators is more important. In order for a worker to become motivated, job enrichment must be occurring consisting of various opportunities for advancement, achievement, recognition, responsibility and stimulation.

One concept emerged from Herzberg’s Model is “Job Enrichment”. It is the process of building achievement, recognition, challenge, responsibility and growth opportunities into a person’s job. This has the effect of increasing the individual motivation by providing him more discretion when performing challenging work. We can say job content or motivators emerged the concept of job enrichment.

Advantages / Merits / Pro’s

  1. It stimulated thought, research and experimentation on the topic of motivation.
  2. Herzberg cleared many misconceptions concerning motivation. Most prominent being money, which was earlier viewed as the most potent force on job.
  3. The theory is supported with considerable empirical data and is included in other research that is supportive of the original hypothesis.
  4. Recognizes the fact that motivation comes from within the individual as opposed to any external factors.
  5. The Two Factor Theory provides practical solutions for organizations.
  6. The job design technique of job enrichment is the contribution of Herzberg. 

Disadvantages / Limitations / Demerits / Con’s

  1. Research methodology is criticized. It has poor reliability 
  2. Doesn’t consider individual personalities with regards to motivating or hygiene factors.
  3. Doesn’t provide a motivational value for each motivator.
  4. The most common mistake committed by leaders is to attend to the hygiene factor while expecting employee motivation!
  5. The theory is inconsistent with other research findings. It ignores situational variables.
  6. Drew conclusions from a limited study covering engineers and accountants. But the general body of workers is differently inclined. They are motivated by pay and other benefits.

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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