Herzberg's Two Factor Theory

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation

Herzberg's Two Factory Theory of Motivation

When it comes to employee satisfaction, it can be a rather difficult area to understand and in many ways, knowledge about it seems to be lacking or misunderstood. Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory is an explanation of the factors that satisfy or dissatisfy employees. It provides an interesting look at the factors that might make an employee satisfied or dissatisfied with their job. The theory also shows the overall complexity of keeping employees satisfied.

“The opposite of job satisfaction is not job dissatisfaction but, rather, no job satisfaction; and similarly, the opposite of job dissatisfaction is not job satisfaction, but no job dissatisfaction”

-Frederick Herzberg, 1987

The theory takes into consideration the quality of supervision, employee job security, pay, and quality working conditions whereby the absence or poor quality of which may cause job dissatisfaction but its presence will not necessarily aid in job satisfaction (Kurian, 2013, p.136). The idea is to learn what factors satisfy employees or what factors dissatisfy employees. The theory breaks these job satisfaction factors into two categories: the motivating factors and the hygiene factors.

Those items that fall into the satisfier category, or motivating factors, are as follows: achievement, recognition, the work one is doing and their perception of it, responsibility, advancement, and growth (Smerek & Peterson, 2006). The category focusing on dissatisfaction, called hygiene factors, contains 10 items: company policy and administration, supervision, relationship with supervisor, working conditions, salary, peer relationships, personal life, subordinate relationships, status, and security (Smerek & Peterson, 2006).

Books by Frederick Herzberg

Motivation to Work

One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? (Harvard Business Review Classics)


According to the Two-Factor Theory you cannot improve job satisfaction by improving any of the 10 hygiene factors, but only by improving the 6 motivating factors; In other words, an improved relationship with your supervisor will not make you like your job any more than you already do, it will just help you not hate it. The absence of the motivating factors will not actually make you dissatisfied with your job, but you will not be satisfied with it either (Smerek & Peterson, 2006).

Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory adds a layer of complexity in working towards motivating employees to be more satisfied with their jobs and role within a company. It provides a rough framework of ideas that may cause job satisfaction or job dissatisfaction. Understanding this theory may assist in the goal of improving employee job satisfaction, but much of the difficulty with this theory is the variations in employee personality and perceptions that do not seem to be given a large enough priority in importance and potential to cause problems within group dynamics.


Originally Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Administration Concentration in Information Resource Management on April 28, 2015

Read Full Document Here

The above is an excerpt from the scientific literature review section of my graduate project.



Carleton University. (2013). Big five personality factors. Retrieved April 4th 2015 from http://http-server.carleton.ca/~tpychyl/011382000/BigFive.html.

Caumont, A. (2014). 6 key finding about going to college. Retrieved October 12th, 2014 from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/11/6-key-findings-about-going-to-college/.

Germeijs, V. & Vershueren, K. (2011). Indecisiveness and Big Five personality factors: Relationship and specificity. Personality and Individual Differences. Vol. 50. Is. 7. May, 2011. Retrieved April 14th2015 from http://0-www.sciencedirect.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/science/article/pii/S0191886911000237.

Herzberg, F. (1987). One more time: How do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review September–October, 109–120. Retrieved January 14th, 2015 from http://0-web.a.ebscohost.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=092efb8b-d356-4e43-8baa-5fcd94169387%40sessionmgr4005&hid=4204.

Husin, L.I, & Zaidi, N.A. (2011). The correlation effects between Big Five personality traits and job satisfaction among support staff in an organization. Retrieved April 14th 2015 from http://0-ieeexplore.ieee.org.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=6163863.

Kurian, G. T. (2013). AMA Dictionary of Business and Management. AMACOM, p.136. Retrieved October 14th 2014 from https://app.knovel.com/web/view/swf/show.v/rcid:kpTAMADBM2/cid:kt00C96V41/viewerType:pdf/root_slug:ama-dictionary-business?cid=kt00C96V41&page=4&b-toc-cid=kpTAMADBM2&b-toc-root-slug=ama-dictionary-business&b-toc-url-slug=habitual-buying-behavior&b-toc-title=The%20AMA%20Dictionary%20of%20Business%20and%20Management.

Lambert, E. G., Hogan, N. L., & Barton, S. M. (2002).  Satisfied correctional staff: a review of the literature on the correlates of correctional staff job satisfaction. Criminal justice and behavior 29.2 (2002):115. Retrieved January 7th, 2015 from http://0-cjb.sagepub.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/content/29/2/115.full.pdf+html.

Lin, I. & Kwantes, C.T. (2014). Potential job facilitation benefits of “water cooler” conversations: The importance of social interaction in the workplace. The Journal of Psychology.  Vol. 149. Iss. 3. Retrieved April 16th 2015 from http://0-www.tandfonline.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/doi/full/10.1080/00223980.2013.874322#.

Mourshed, M., Farrell, D., & Barton, D. – McKinsey Center for Government,. (N.D.). Education to employment: Designing a system that works. Retrieved from mckinseyonsociety.com website: http://mckinseyonsociety.com/education-to-employment/report/.

Oswald, A.J., Proto, E., & Sgroi. D. – University of Warwick (2008). Happiness and Productivity. Jole 3rd Version. 10 Feb, 2014. Retrieved October 14th, 2014 from http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/eproto/workingpapers/happinessproductivity.pdf.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. (2015). Job satisfaction. Retrieved January 16th 2015 from http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/job-satisfaction.

Ravari, A., Bazargan, M., Vanaki, Z. & Mirzai, T. (2012). Job satisfaction among Iranian hospital-based practicing nurses: Examining the influence of self-expectation, social interaction, and organizational situations. Journal of Nursing Management. Vol. 20. Iss. 4. Pp. 522-533. Retrieved April 16th 2015 from http://0-onlinelibrary.wiley.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2834.2010.01188.x/abstract.

Reed, M.B., Bruch, M.A., & Haase, R.F. (2004). Five-factor model of personality and career exploration. Journal of Career Assessment, 12 (2004), pp. 223–238. Retrieved April 14th 2015 from http://www.scopus.com/record/display.url?eid=2-s2.0-3242701403&origin=inward&txGid=85A6C2387AE650DD0842FCF9E493C3C6.y7ESLndDIsN8cE7qwvy6w%3a2.

Riggio, R.E. (2014). What is authentic leadership? Do you have it? Psychology Today. Retrieved April 15th 2015 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201401/what-is-authentic-leadership-do-you-have-it.

Smerek, R. E., & Peterson, M. (2006) Examining Herzberg’s Theory: Improving Job Satisfaction among Non-academic Employees at a University. Research in higher education 48.2 (2006):229-250. Retrieved October 15th 2014 from http://0-link.springer.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/article/10.1007/s11162-006-9042-3/fulltext.html.

Spagnolo, G. (1999). Social relations and cooperation in organizations. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Vol. 38 Iss. 1. Retrieved April 16th 2015 from http://0-www.sciencedirect.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/science/article/pii/S016726819800119X.

Sut I Wong , H. & Perry, C. (2011). Employee empowerment, job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Retrieved April 16th 2015 from http://0-search.proquest.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/docview/888255484?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=10181.

Vedder, R., Denhart, C., Robe, J. (2013). Why are recent college graduates underemployed? Center for College Affordability and Productivity. Retrieved April 4th 2015 from http://centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/Underemployed%20Report%202.pdf.

Wong, C.A. & Laschinger, K.S. (2012). Authentic leadership, performance, and job satisfaction: The mediating role of empowerment. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Vol. 69, Iss. 4. pp.947-959. Retrieved April 14th 2015 from http://0-onlinelibrary.wiley.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2012.06089.x/full.

Wright, T. A., & Straw, B.M. (1999). Affect and favorable work outcomes: two longitudinal tests of the happy-productive worker thesis. Journal of organizational behavior 20.1 ;1-23. Retrieved October 16th, 2014 from http://0-search.proquest.com.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/docview/224884806?accountid=10181.

Wyatt, I. D., & Hecker, D. E. (2006). Occupational changes during the 20th century. Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 9th, 2013, from http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2006/03/art3full.pdf.

Verbeke, W. & Wuyts, S. (2006). Moving in social circles: Social circle membership and performance implications. Retrieved April 16th 2015 from http://0-www.jstor.org.catalog.lib.cmich.edu/stable/30162564?seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents.

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.