Frederick Herzberg Motivation and Hygiene Factors

This article concerns Frederick Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory, which was formulated in the book "The Motivation to Work". (1967) This theory is divided into two different categories of factors affecting the motivation to work. The first category is labelled as motivation factors, and the second category is marked as hygiene factors. The underlying assumption theorised by Frederick Herzberg is that the presence of hygiene factors prevent employees from feeling unhappy (dissatisfied) with their job. Hygiene factors include extrinsic factors like technical supervision, interpersonal relations, physical working conditions, salary, company policies and administrative practices, benefits and job security.

List of hygiene factors:

  1. Pay and Benefits
  2. Company Policy and Administration
  3. Relationships with co-workers
  4. Physical Environment
  5. Supervision
  6. Status
  7. Job Security
  8. Salary
  9. Working Conditions
  10. Personal life
The maintenance of hygiene factors therefore only ensures that the employees are not feeling unhappy or frustrated with their job.

In comparison, motivation factors include intrinsic factors such as achievement, recognition and status, responsibility, challenging work and advancement in the organisation, which are factors that can potentially make employees happy with their job and motivated to excel at work.

List of motivator factors:

  1. Achievement
  2. Recognition
  3. Work Itself
  4. Responsibility
  5. Promotion
  6. Growth
Therefore, Frederick Herzberg's theory postulates that only motivation factors have the potential of increasing job satisfaction. Compared to these motivation factors, hygiene factors can only be used to prevent general dissatisfaction, and thus not be used as incentives to create happiness. An employee may therefore very well be satisfied with his/her overall working conditions, but not especially motivated to work and perform to his/her full potential.

This distinction between the different effects of motivation factors and hygiene factors seems somewhat static and inflexible, and later research has pinpointed flaws in the original terminology of Frederick Herzberg. For example, Ebrahim Maidani (1991) conducted research based on Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory, which showed new exciting insights into the validity of Herzberg's Theory and its somewhat normative approach. In short, the research conducted by Ebrahim Maidani concluded that both intrinsic motivation factors and extrinsic hygiene factors can influence overall job motivation. This stands in contrast to the original terminology of Frederick Herzberg, where only motivation factors were theorised as factors increasing job satisfaction and motivation.


The Motivation to Work
Herzberg, Frederick; (1959); New York: John Wiley and Sons
A Comparative study of Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of job satisfaction among public and private sectors.
Maidani, Ebrahim; (1991); Public Personnel Management; Vol. 20 Issue 4; p441

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