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Herzberg Theory of Motivation or Two Factor Theory

Herzberg Theory

Herzberg theory of motivation is also called Two Factor Theory or Motivator-Hygiene Theory. Herzberg classified the various factors that can influence motivation at the workplace into two groups

  1. Hygiene Factors – The presence of these factors does not necessarily motivate people to work hard, but the absence of these will demotivate people at the workplace.
  2. Motivational Factors or Motivating Agents or Motivators – The presence of these factors will motivate people to work hard.

Hygiene Factors

The Herzberg Hygiene factors are mandatory factors without which you cannot motivate people. These are those factors that are essential for motivation to exist in the workplace.

The existence of Hygiene factors does not necessarily lead to any positive satisfaction, but the absence of these factors will definitely result in negative satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

It can be said that Hygiene factors are Physiological and Safety needs that individuals expect to be fulfilled.

Examples of Herzberg Hygiene Factors

  • Personal Safety & Good Working conditions – Equipment and work environment should be safe, fit for use, and hygienic.
  • Company Policies should be fair and clear to employees, further, they should also be in line with their competitors.
  • Fair Compensation – Salary should be fair, reasonable, in line with the industry standards, and competitive with other organizations in the same industry.
  • Job security – Employees should feel that their job is secure and they are not under the constant threat of being laid-off.
  • Good relationships at work – There should be collaborative, amiable, and an overall healthy relationship between peers, superiors, and subordinates.
  • Work-life balance – Employees should not be overloaded with work and unrealistic expectations leaving them no time for personal life. Proper care should be taken so that employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • etc.

Motivating Factors

These factors motivate the employees for better performance as they are perceived as additional benefits. Motivational factors, if present would lead to positive satisfaction, however, the Absence of these factors does not necessarily lead to negative satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Motivating Factors are also called Motivators or Motivating agents.

Examples of Herzberg Motivating factors:

  • Rewards and Recognition – A job must provide an employee with praise and recognition of their successes. This recognition should come from both their superiors and their peers.
  • Achievement – A job must give an employee a sense of achievement. This will provide a proud feeling of having done something difficult but worthwhile.
  • Nature of Work – Work must not be monotonous but be meaningful, interesting, and provide enough of a challenge to keep employees motivated.
  • Stewardship – Employees should not be micromanaged, but should feel that they have enough latitude to own their work, and are responsible for its completion.
  • Assigning more/higher responsibilities
  • Career Growth – Employees should be deployed in a high visibility role with the possibility of high career growth


Two Factor Theory of Motivation or Herzberg Theory of Motivation

The Four States of an Organization as per Herzberg Motivation Theory or Two Factor Theory

As per the Two Factor theory, at any point of time, there are four states an organization or a team can find themselves in with respect to the Hygiene Factors and Motivational Factors

  1. High Hygiene and High Motivation
  2. High Hygiene and Low Motivation
  3. Low Hygiene and High Motivation
  4. Low Hygiene and Low Motivation

High Hygiene and High Motivation

This is the best and ideal situation for any organization or team. In this state employees are motivated to perform their best and they are little or no grievances.

High Hygiene and Low Motivation

This is a state, where employees have all the basic needs fulfilled and they are little or no grievances with respect to pay or working conditions. However, the work isn’t very interesting for the employees and they are just coming to work for their salary. Employees will move out if they find roles that pay as well as their current organizations and get a chance to work on interesting stuff.

Low Hygiene and High Motivation

In a Low Hygiene and High motivation situation, employees are highly motivated to come to work but they have a lot of unfulfilled grievances. A typical example is where employees are working on some very interesting technologies, but the pay is less compared to competitors or not in line with industry standards.

Low Hygiene and Low Motivation

This is the most undesirable situation for any organization or team. This is where employees are underpaid and the work is also uninteresting. Unless their grievances are addressed, employees start to leave the organization if the situations persist in this state.


Applying Herzberg theory of Motivation to Demotivated Employees

There are various signs through which you can identify your employees are demotivated. Some of them are Low productivity, High attrition rate, frequent complaints about pay and working conditions, poor quality of service to your end customers or production of low-quality products, events of employee strikes, etc…

According to Herzberg’s Motivation theory, In a scenario as above, management should focus on rearranging work so that motivating factors can kick in. Job Rotation, Job Enlargement, Job Enrichment are the three strategies that employers could implement in situations like this to re-motivate already demotivated employees.


Important Limitations of Herzberg Motivation Theory

  • This theory applies to white-collar workers only.
  • It seems that this theory weighs employee satisfaction more than organizational goals. Further, it also does not provide any objective way to measure employee satisfaction.


Herzberg theory of Motivation is also called Two Factor theory or Motivation-Hygiene Theory.

According to Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation, factors that influence motivation at the workplace can be classified into two groups. They are 1) Hygiene factors 2) Motivating factors.

Hygiene factors are mandatory factors. The presence of these factors will not lead to greater satisfaction, but the absence of these factors will lead to dissatisfaction and poor motivation.

Motivating factors are like additional benefits with which employees are positively satisfied more and this could lead to better performance. The absence of these factors does not necessarily lead to negative satisfaction.

Every organization and team should strive to attain the state of High Hygiene and High Motivation and always avoid the state of Low hygiene and Low Motivation.

Check the other Motivation Theories also.

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