Herzberg’s Motivation – Hygiene Theory

One of the most interesting studies that concentrated on the motivating factors, has been conducted by Frederick Herzberg. He collected data on job attitudes from which influence about human behaviour and motivating factors could be drawn. Extensive interviews were conducted, with some two hundred engineers and accountants from eleven industries in Pittsburg area. They were asked about what kind of things made them unhappy.

Analysing the date, Herzberg came to the conclusion that people has two different categories of needs which are independent of each other and affect their behaviour in different ways. He found that when people were dissatisfied with their jobs, it was mostly due to environment in which they were working. And whenever people were satisfied with their jobs it was mainly due to work itself. Herzberg called the former category of factors as hygiene factors because they are rooted in the environment and serve the primary function of preventing dissatisfaction from job. He called the second category of factors as motivators since they had the capacity to motivate people.

Hygiene Factors

Company policies, remuneration, inter-personal relations, working conditions, status, security, etc. may be taken as hygiene factors. The word hygiene is used in the clinical sense of being preventive and environmental. These factors are not part of the work, but, relate to the conditions in which work is performed. Positive hygiene factors are not by themselves motivators. They only prevent loss of worker’s performance due to poor environmental conditions. Taking away any of the hygiene factors, can create a lot of dissatisfaction among employees. For example, shifty work rooms, poor salaries and supervision by ill-tempered bosses can create dissatisfaction which can result in a great loss of work.

Motivation Factors

These include the feeling of achievement, professional growth and recognition which the work itself can give to the employees. These come as a part of the work itself which offers challenge and scope for personal development. These factors are called motivators because they have a direct effect on motivation which is positive as against the effect of hygiene factors which can only be negative.

The table below shows these factors:

Group-1(Hygiene Factors)

Group-ll (Motivation Factors)

Company Policy and Administration

Work itself challenging

Working conditions



Recognition for achievement

Inter-personal relations

Increased responsibility


Opportunity for advancement


Growth and development

Job Security


In recent researches it has been found that the motivation-hygiene theory of Herzberg can be extended to include every level of organisation from top management to the shop-floor workers, although originally it was derived from researches on engineers and accountants only.

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