Herzberg's theory

Herzberg’s theory: The key to increasing motivation at work

Have you ever heard of Herzberg’s theory? It has become increasingly popular in the workplace, helping to answer key questions such as: What motivates our behaviour at work? Why do we prefer to do some things rather than others? When probed, multiple variables come into play to explain behaviour. 

However, in today’s business world, understanding what drives and motivates employees is critical to the success of any organisation. Satisfied and motivated employees are the driving force behind labour productivity. In fact, research indicates that satisfied and motivated employees are 12% more productive.

This is why the study of motivation in the workplace has been a relevant topic in recent years. And, within this research, there is a key figure in industrial psychology: Frederick Herzberg, whose theory of motivation, also called “Herzberg’s theory”, has been widely studied and applied in work environments around the world. Let’s see what it’s all about. 

Herzberg's theory

What is Herzberg’s theory?

Frederick Herzberg was an American psychologist known for his contributions to industrial psychology. In the 1950s, Herzberg conducted a study on the factors that influence job satisfaction and developed his two-factor theory, also known as Herzberg’s theory of motivation and hygiene.

According to Herzberg’s theory, there are two types of factors that influence job satisfaction and motivation:

1. Hygiene factors: 

Hygiene factors are related to the feeling of dissatisfaction at work. Herzberg’s theory called them “hygiene factors”, referring to an analogy with the principles of medical hygiene, i.e. they are able to eliminate or prevent health hazards. In the work environment, therefore, they eliminate or prevent risks of dissatisfaction. 

These factors refer to the work environment and the conditions surrounding the job. They include aspects such as pay, working conditions, company policies, and interpersonal relationships. Therefore, Herzberg’s theory explains that these factors are necessary to prevent job dissatisfaction, but alone they are not sufficient to motivate employees.

2. Motivational factors: 

These factors relate to satisfying experiences, such as job content and a sense of personal achievement. They include aspects such as recognition, responsibility, personal growth, and development opportunities. 

Herzberg’s theory argues that these factors are the real drivers of job satisfaction and motivation, as they are intrinsically linked to the work itself and the tasks performed.

In this sense, Herzberg’s theory invites organisations to review their company policies and design strategies to eliminate dissatisfaction and promote employee motivation.

Herzberg's theory

How can Herzberg’s theory be used to increase motivation?

Understanding Herzberg’s theory has important implications for business, especially for human resource management in any organisation. Here are some key strategies that companies can adopt to apply this theory effectively:

  1. Focus on motivational factors: Instead of focusing solely on improving working conditions, companies should strive to provide meaningful opportunities for growth, recognition, and personal development to their employees. In other words, they should emphasise motivational factors and implement values to ensure mental health at work.
  2. Encourage autonomy and responsibility: Giving employees more control over their work, encouraging them to establish a work-life balance, and assigning them meaningful responsibilities can increase their sense of belonging and motivation.
  3. Offer professional development programmes: Providing training and professional development opportunities can help employees achieve their personal and professional goals, increasing their job satisfaction.
  4. Create a culture of recognition: Recognising and rewarding employees for good performance can strengthen their motivation and increase their commitment to the company.
Herzberg's theory

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At ifeel, we understand that Herzberg’s theory offers valuable insight into the factors influencing motivation and job satisfaction. By understanding and applying its principles, companies can improve employee engagement, increase productivity, and create a more rewarding and satisfying work environment for all.

However, we understand that implementing such a strategy from scratch can be difficult without professional help. That’s why our team of workplace well-being psychologists has developed a mental well-being solution for businesses to help boost employee engagement and increase productivity.  

Thanks to this collaboration, HR managers can receive personalised, data-driven advice on the most effective measures to detect mental health problems in employees and measure their teams’ working environment. This is the best way to understand their needs. 

Moreover, ifeel’s mental well-being solution for companies offers employees a mental health care service structured at different levels depending on their needs at any given time. 

We hope you found this article on Herzberg’s theory interesting. If you would like to find out more about our corporate mental well-being solution, simply request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

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