Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000), an American psychologist, conducted research that led him to develop the two-factor theory of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Herzberg’s two-factor theory suggests that certain factors have the ability to provide job satisfaction while others can only reduce job dissatisfaction.
The factors that motivated workers and provided job satisfaction, Herzberg called motivators. These factors include responsibility, a sense of achievement, recognition of achievement, promotion opportunities and what type of work is being done. These things are likely to motivate workers and are related directly to the job.
Factors that may reduce job dissatisfaction are called hygiene or maintenance factors. These factors include company policy and procedures, supervision, pay, work relationships and working conditions. These factors can only reduce job dissatisfaction and they are not directly linked to the job. Making sure these factors are acceptable to the labour force prevents dissatisfaction rather than causing positive motivation.
Even though hygiene factors do not create motivation it does not mean that they are unimportant or less relevant than motivators. Both types of factors are vitally important because if they are inappropriate it will cause major consequences for the business of organisation.
Frederick Herzberg also highlighted the difference between movement and motivation. Movement is when someone does something and motivation is when they want to do something. When a worker does more hours at work to save money for a holiday it is a movement, not motivation. From this, Herzberg suggested that reward based systems, including bonuses, could only provide movement rather than long term motivation.
One of Herzberg’s recommendations that stemmed from his research was job enrichment. Job enrichment is when an employer attempts to motivate workers by giving them opportunities to use their abilities. This could include allowing workers greater independence and authority over their work with regards to planning, execution and control of tasks.
The main criticism of Herzberg’s research was the fact that the sample he used consisted of only two hundred accountants and engineers. It was also suggested that his research understated the role of groups and teams within the workplace. This is because groups and teams can generate a great deal of motivational influence.
Even though Herzberg’s work has its criticisms, his ideas have been shown to be valid in practice. This is evident in businesses because a pay rise or change in working conditions is rarely enough to produce a labour force that is highly motivated. It has also be shown that if workers perceive a wage increase to be inadequate or working conditions are less than ideal it can have major consequences on the business and its operations.