Herzberg’s two factor theory of motivation

Herzberg’s intrinsic/extrinsic factors (hygiene-motivators)

Herzberg’s two factor theory is one of the most well known theories of motivation. An extensive amount of research has been conducted based on this theory. The main underlying basis of his theory is that  there are factors that cause motivation and those which cause dissatisfaction. There are several factors that  the managers need to know to learn what motivates their employees. Employees do not just seek good salaries. They also seek  good quality interpersonal relationships. Better supervision also tends to motivate the employees to do better for their companies.

Well known  psychologist Frederick Herzberg carried out extensive research in this regard to know what motivated people and what did not during the 1950s and 60s. He questioned people in this regard to know what caused pleasure and satisfaction. The result of his extensive research was the two factor theory which is also known as intrinsic v extrinsic motivation theory or the motivation hygiene theory. The theory concluded that  while a set of factors could lead to increase in satisfaction for the employees there was another set that  could cause dissatisfaction. However, there was not a linear  relationship between the two sets. It means increase in the factors in one set did not necessarily diminish the impact of the factors from the other set.

Extrinsic factors: The extrinsic factors or the hygiene factors are related to more basic needs of the employees. These factors correspond to the existence level of the ERG theory or the basic physiological and safety needs in Maslow’s theory. Most common among these factors are the salary,  status, job security, fringe benefits etc. These are also the most important factors related to any job. Managers need to focus on these factors since their absence can cause dissatisfaction and a loss of motivation for the employees. They should provide the appropriate and expected extrinsic motivators to their employees.

Intrinsic factors: The Intrinsic factors or the motivators correspond to the less tangible needs which are more emotional in nature. These factors are related to the emotional needs of the employees. They correspond to the relatedness and growth needs from the ERG theory. The intrinsic factors or the motivators include the work itself, potential of recognition and growth, workplace relationships etc.  While these are not the most basic needs related to any work, still they hold immense value when it comes to empowering and motivating individuals and teams. Managers should focus on these factors to motivate the employees. While these factors are not traditional features of any job, still their role is important with regards to employee motivation and can create extra satisfaction for the employees. It is why managers should focus on adding extra rewards, making the work challenging or providing new opportunities of growth to keep their employees motivated.

Herzberg stressed that there was not a linear but an inverse relationship between the two types of factors. It implies that the intrinsic motivators tend to increase motivation when they are present while an absence of the extrinsic factors tend to decrease the motivation of the employees. Every employee expects the intrinsic factors to be present at his job, so their presence inspires motivation. On the other hand the extrinsic factors, if they are present, can work as an additional source of motivation for the employees. Managers who want to increase their employees’ job satisfaction should place their focus on the job itself and its nature.

They should try making the job challenging or adding chances of recognition, increasing responsibility and even linking appropriate chances of growth to the job. Simultaneously, if they want to decrease the dissatisfaction among the employees, their focus must be on the job environment. The dissatisfaction among the employees can be reduced by having appropriate policies, providing better supervision as well as better working conditions.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.