Two-factor theory or Herzberg’s theory is known as the motivation-hygiene theory or two-factor theory. It states that people’s performance at work depends on the level of satisfaction they experience in their work environment.
It is important to note that this is a theory based on motivation. Furthermore, it considers that motivation is the factor that drives and engages people to perform better at work. That is why it is so important that the company’s objectives coincide with the interests of its employees.
As a consequence, this explains why people’s responses to work are different, depending on whether they feel satisfied or dissatisfied. This theory was developed by Frederick Herzberg, who determined through his studies that the factors that drive workers are hygiene and motivational factors. Hence, Herzberg’s theory is called the hygiene-motivation theory, the two-factor theory or Herzberg’s two-factor theory.
Hygiene and motivational factors
Hygiene and motivation factors are used in this theory to determine the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction it causes in people.
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In general, hygiene factors refer to the primary needs identified in Maslow’s pyramid. As it relates to the satisfaction of physiological and safety needs. Whereas, motivation factors relate to secondary needs, including social and self-fulfilment needs.
Above all, hygiene factors relate specifically to the environment in which the work takes place. If these are absent in the working environment, they can cause dissatisfaction among workers and consequently affect their performance.
Hygiene factors include:
Firstly, economic factors relate to the wages and benefits received by the worker. This implies that the structuring of wages must be adequate and appropriate to the tasks performed by the individual. Poor wage structuring leads to employee dissatisfaction.
Secondly, working conditions refer to the working environment such as safe, clean and hygienic facilities and work equipment that must be maintained in good condition. Likewise, adequate lighting and temperature conditions. If these conditions are lacking, the employee is dissatisfied.
Thirdly, job security is all the administrative policies of the company. These must be clearly defined to be fair and appropriate. Above all, they must include fair work rules, clearly defined standards and procedures.
The absence of these conditions can lead to frustration among workers. Everyone feels better when they find security in their work.
Fourthly, social factors refer to the way in which one interacts and coexists with co-workers. These are all the interpersonal relationships of each employee with his or her colleagues, be they superiors or subordinates.
These relationships should be appropriate and respectful, otherwise they can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction. The prevailing atmosphere should be familiar and friendly.
Finally, companies can benefit their employees with health care plans, family insurance and employee assistance programmes. They could also provide physical benefits such as offices, toilets and job categories for employees. Without these benefits, people may express dissatisfaction at work.
However, motivational factors have to do with aspects directly related to the positions in each job. They therefore have a positive effect on productivity levels and the pursuit of excellence in the positions.
The most important motivational factors are:
Of course, the work a person does must be important and interesting in order to stimulate the person to perform better and stay motivated. This can be achieved if people can fully express and develop themselves in their work.
Achievement and self-fulfilment
On the other hand, people achieve job satisfaction when they feel that what they do is important and valued. Work should help people to do interesting things, as this generates feelings of achievement in people. All this contributes to individual growth and consequently to the growth of the company, because everyone as a whole performs better.
In addition, employee satisfaction will depend to a large extent on the recognition given for achievements in their work. This confirms to the individual that he or she is doing a job well done and important.
Certainly, people feel better when controls by their superiors are minimised, because they as employees can take responsibility for their tasks. This increases employees’ self-confidence and as a consequence they perform better.
What can be learned from Two-factor theory?
Naturally, this theory allows us to understand that workers find greater satisfaction when their work environment is favourable. This means that it allows them to rise to higher positions, achieve self-fulfilment and receive recognition for their efforts. All this generates a positive experience at work.
In order to keep their employees motivated, companies must do the following:
To eliminate dissatisfaction, companies must:
- Review company policies and eliminate those that may affect worker productivity.
- Review salaries and make adjustments if necessary.
- Promote greater job security.
- Enrich work tasks so that everyone does interesting and meaningful work.
- Eliminate anything that may cause frustration for the employee.
After eliminating all points that create dissatisfaction, the level of satisfaction must be increased. To do this, the following should be done:
- Recognise the efforts and achievements of employees.
- Increase the level of employee accountability and avoid unnecessary controls.
- Help make employees’ work more interesting. To this end, they should be given continuous training and provided with the necessary resources to achieve this.
Finally, we will conclude by saying that Herzberg’s theory explains that when people are satisfied at work they perform better. Because they are more motivated to do a better and more productive job. The aim is to foster a work environment where workers feel motivated, happy and, consequently, will perform better.