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Herzberg’s two-factor theory

Motivating employees to work is an important element of the activities of any enterprise, regardless of the size. Every year, the knowledge in this respect expands, which makes motivating easier and easier to master. In the 1950s, Frederick Herzberg, a psychologist dealing with the theory of motivation, developed the two-factor theory, one of the most popular theories in this field.

Herzberg carried out his research among accountants and engineers, interviewing them about what pleased them at work and what discouraged them. His conclusion was that motivating employees takes place with the use of two factors: motivators (which are intrinsic) and hygiene factors (which are extrinsic, affecting the employees externally).

The motivators are directly related to our attitude to a given task and provide information if we perceive this task as positive or negative. They lead to satisfaction from work. Herzberg distinguished 6 motivators that allow employees to satisfy their needs and feel fulfilled at work. These are:

  • Recognition – appreciating the employee, noticing his or her successes

  • Achievements – all kinds of problem-solving, the possibility of completing a given task

  • Responsibility – making the employee actually responsible for something

  • Promotion – any change that improves the employee’s life

  • Development possibilities – continuous gaining of new experience, the possibility of learning and expanding skills

  • Work – the possibility of carrying out work as such, tasks

These factors affect each other to a certain extent. Possibilities of development certainly affect achievements, and these in turn affect promotion prospects. They give the employee a feeling of fulfilment, self-actualisation, pursuing a particular goal. Being aware that work serves some purpose may substantially affect the level of the employee’s satisfaction.

Intrinsic factors are within your control, for instance thanks to the innovative Motiveo e-service. It allows for tracking sales results, solving problems, and monitoring progress by the enterprise owner, the managers, and the sales specialists. Thanks to the possibility of observing work progress in real time, you are able to actually plan your career path and monitor your achievements.

The other factor affecting employee motivation are hygiene factors. The lack of them in the workplace automatically causes dissatisfaction, while their presence ensures lack of dissatisfaction at most. It turns out that the workplace is very important. Even though it does not produce a feeling of fulfilment at work, it may greatly decrease the level of motivation. Herzberg specified the following hygiene factors:

  • Enterprise policy – the attitude to employees, the directions of company development

  • Company management – competences and integrity of managers

  • Interpersonal relations – the relations within the enterprise

  • Remuneration – the basic salary and all bonuses and benefits

  • Job status – the position and all of the factors setting it apart from other positions (i.e. company car, company phone, etc.)

  • Job security – permanence of employment

  • Work conditions – the physical conditions

  • Personal life – the way work affects personal life, how the employee may provide for his or her family thanks to work

According to Herzberg’s theory, the correct operation of the motivators closely depends on the hygiene factors. Only proper functioning of both elements may result in employee satisfaction and, consequently, a better performance on their part.