Becoming an effective leader

2.2 - Review own ability to motivate, delegate and empower others

Motivation Theory

Hertzberg’s Motivation and Hygiene Factors


Frederick Hertzberg (1923-2000), a clinical psychologist by profession, is widely regarded as a leading expert in motivational theory; he is also well-known as the pioneer of 'job enrichment'. In his book 'The Motivation to Work', written with research

colleagues Bernard Mausner and Barbara Bloch Snyderman in 1959, Hertzberg first established his theories about motivation in the workplace.


Over time, Hertzberg’s theory (Hertzberg’s 2-Factor Theory) has gained considerable credibility, in part because it is considered to be a seminal work in terms of the research methodology used, but also because it aligns very neatly with the concept of the Psychological Contract.


Principally, Hertzberg changed the rules for surveying. Specifically, he and his colleagues  asked  only  open  questions  and  made  very  few  assumptions  in  their surveys, the industry standard at the time was to ask closed and multiple choice

questions. This enabled Hertzberg et al to gather and analyse an unusually comprehensive dataset. They were able, then, to compare results and methodologies of all 155 previous research studies into job attitudes carried out between 1920 and

1954. Hertzberg's survey methodology and analysis is so detailed that the statistics derived from the survey can be interpreted in many different ways, even though the principal findings remain both clear and robust.

Hertzberg was the first to show that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work nearly always arose from different factors, stating that: ‘… the job satisfiers deal with the factors involved in doing the job, whereas the job dissatisfiers deal with the factors which define the job context.’  This was a pivotal conclusion highlighting a weakness in early motivational theory, which commonly asserted that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were simply opposing reactions to the same factors. He described job satisfiers as

‘motivators’  and  job  dissatisfiers  as  ‘hygiene  factors’.  The  table  below  shows

Hertzberg’s motivators and sets out some examples of what Hertzberg called ‘hygiene factors’:



Motivators                                                                                         Hygiene Factors

Recognition                                                                                       Salary

Achievement                                                                                     Work conditions

Work itself                                                                                          Security

Responsibility                                                                                    Personal life

Advancement                                                                                    Company policy and administration

Personal growth                                                                                 Supervision

                                                                                                           Relationship with peers

                                                                                                           Relationship with supervisor

                                                                                                           Relationship with subordinates


                                                                                                           Other benefits (health insurance, company car, etc)


(Adapted from Herzberg 1959



To illustrate the relationship between the motivators and the hygiene factors, it can help to think of the motivators as a Formula 1 racing car. The car represents the ‘motivators’; these can only exist when the support team is functioning as one – that is, when the

‘hygiene’ factors are all satisfied. Thus:

The list and the diagram above suggest that Hertzberg’s analysis has some resonance with Maslow in that the ‘hygiene factors’ could be perceived to be the lower level hierarchical needs. Indeed, according to Hertzberg, man has 2 sets of needs: one, as an animal, to avoid pain, and two, as a human being, to grow psychologically. In this analysis, there are obvious parallels that can be drawn with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The needs for survival (physiological and safety) are to do with avoiding pain, while psychological growth is a sum of the other 3 needs.


Interestingly, Hertzberg was less concerned with developing a motivational theory that could be used by managers to improve organisational performance, than improving the well-being of employees. Hertzberg’s research led him to conclude that people will only obtain true satisfaction at work when all the ‘hygiene factors’ have been satisfied. He observed that the ability of an individual to be motivated can be adversely affected by any material change to one or more of the ‘hygiene factors’. Thus, for example, an employee whose relationship with a colleague is  difficult may find it difficult to be motivated about their work while ever that relationship remains challenging.

Money as a Motivator


Hertzberg acknowledged the importance of money and earnings (including bonuses) when he referred to salary as a dissatisfier, concluding that money is not a motivator in the way that things like achievement and recognition are proven motivators. He also observed  that  the  issue  was  complicated  by  other  variables,  or  other  interrelated factors and said:


‘... when salary occurred as a factor in the lows (causes of dissatisfaction) it revolved around the unfairness of the wage system within the company... It was the system of salary administration that was being described... [or] it concerned an advancement that was not accompanied by a salary increase... In contrast to this, salary was mentioned in the high stories (events causing satisfaction) as something that went along with a person's achievement on the job. It was a form of recognition; it meant more than money; it meant a job well done; it meant that the individual was progressing in his work ...’


Today, exit surveys – surveys undertaken when people leave jobs – and research studies consistently indicate that other factors motivate more than money. For example, HR consultants Right Management asked 1,308 people in 2008 why they left their jobs

in  the  previous  year.  The  following  reasons  were  given  by  respondents  (some respondents gave more than one reason) to explain the decision to leave their job:


·       Downsizing or restructuring (54%);

·       Sought new challenges or opportunities (30%);

·       Ineffective leadership (25%);

·       Poor relationship with manager (22%);

·       To improve work/life balance (21%);

·       Contributions to the company were not valued (21%);

·       Better compensation and benefits (18%).


While compulsory or voluntary redundancy tops the list, reflecting the tough economic climate in the late 2000s, the most significant reason given for leaving after that is the need for new challenges and opportunities. This reason could indicate that one or more

of Hertzberg’s motivators are not being met. The list also shows there are a number of Hertzberg’s  dissatisfiers  in  the  list  –  including  ‘ineffective  leadership’  and  ‘poor relationship with manager’ – while ‘better compensation and benefits’ comes last on the list.

Activity - Take some time to think about or research some possible problems with Hertzbergs theory.