Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation

Fredrick Herzberg propounded the two factor theory of motivation by drawing a distinction between hygiene factors and motivators that exist in the work environment and consequently their impact on employee’s motivation.

He illustrated that factors such as working conditions and environment, company’s policies towards its employees, the quality of administration and supervision, etc. constitute the hygiene factors. Inter-personal relationships also form a part of these factors. The absence of hygiene factors can be a source of dissatisfaction among the employees. However, their presence does not motivate or provide the employees with the stimulus to work better.

The second set of determinants including challenging tasks and assignments, reward and recognition, achievement and advancement, responsibility, avenues for personal and professional growth, etc constitute the Motivators.

Motivators have a direct relationship with the level of motivation of employees. The presence of motivators stimulates an employee to perform better and offers a higher level of satisfaction. Furthermore, the lack of motivators can cause employees to become dissatisfied and de-motivated, thereby hampering their efficiency and commitment towards work assigned.

Herzberg’s theory has been phenomenal in shaping the modern thinking about the interrelationship between financial compensation (in terms of rewards) and non-financial compensation in terms of recognition. It identifies the importance of non-financial compensation for employees and its impact on them which is reflected through increased efficiency and dedication towards work.

Implication of Herzberg’s Theory

This theory when applied in practice suggests that management should not only provide hygiene factors to keep the employees satisfied but they should also ensure the presence of motivators which are intrinsic to the job itself that keep the employees motivated. By extending opportunities which require challenging assignments, management can fully utilize the ability and intellect of the employee.

Criticism of Herzberg’s Theory

Though the Two Factor Theory has been enduring and is still well regarded, it is criticized on certain aspects. Firstly, the existence of satisfaction and dissatisfaction on different scales has been ruled out. Critics argue that individual differences which arise due to different personality traits also affect the extent of influence on motivation of employees.

Moreover, the assumption on which Herzberg’s theory is based that happy and satisfied workers produce more cannot be justified. And the estimation that a certain factor will produce a certain result is debated by various critics. To predict the outcome of a possibility in behavioral terms is difficult to estimate.

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