Theories of Motivation: Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Model

A significant development in motivation was distinction between motivational and maintenance factors in job situation. A research was conducted by Herzberg and his associates based on the interview of 200 engineers and accountants who worked for eleven different firms in Pittsburgh area. These men were asked to recall specific incidents in their experience, which made them, feel either particularly good or particularly bad about jobs. The findings of the research were that good feelings in the group under test were keyed to the specific tasks that the men performed rather than to background factors such as money, security or working conditions and when they felt bad, it was because of some disturbance on these background factors which had caused them to believe that they were being treated unfairly. This led to draw a distinction between what are called as ‘motivators’ and ‘hygiene factors’. To this group of engineers and accountants, the real motivators were opportunities to become more expert and to handle more demanding assignments. Hygienie factors served to prevent loss of money and efficiency. Thus, hygienie factors provide no motivation to the employees, but the absence of these factors serves as dissatisfiers.

Some job conditions operate primarily to dissatisfy employees when they are absent, but their presence does not motivate employees in a strong way. Many of these factors are traditionally perceived by management as motivators, but the factors are really more potent as dissatisfiers. They are called maintenance factors in job because they are necessary to maintain a reasonable level of satisfaction among the also known as dissatisfiers or “hygienie factors” because they support primarily to build strong motivation and high job satisfaction among the employees. These conditions are ‘motivational factors’.  Hygienie factors include wages, fringe benefits, physical conditions and overall company policy and administration. The presence of these factors at a satisfactory level presents job dissatisfaction, but they do not provide motivation to the employees. So they are not considered as motivational factors, but are essential for increasing the productivity of the employees. They are also known as satisfiers and include such factors as recognition, feeling of accomplishment and achievement, opportunity of advancement and potential for personal growth, responsibility and sense of job and individual importance, new experience and challenging work etc.

Herzberg further stated that managers have hitherto been very much concerned with hygienie factors. As a result, they have not been able to obtain the desired behaviour from employees. In order to increase the motivation of employees, it is necessary to pay attention to the satisfiers or motivational factors.

Herzberg also said that to-day’s motivators are tomorrow’s hygienes because they stop influencing the behaviour of persons when they get them. When a person gets one thing, then something else will motivate him and the need, which has been fulfilled, will have only negative significance in determining his behaviour. It should also be noted that one’s hygiene may be the motivator of another. For instance, it is likely that workers in underdeveloped societies will designate some of the maintenance factors as motivators because their primary needs have not been fulfilled and they continue to be motivated by these factors.

Comparison with Maslow’s theory:

(a) Similarities: in a broad sense there are some similarities between Herzberg’s two-factor theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of need theory which are as under:

(i) Both Herzberg and Maslow lay stress on the different needs of the employees. Both can be appropriately classified as content theorists.

(ii)In an advanced society, the lower level needs like food and shelter as pointed out by Maslow are all satisfied. As such they cease to be motivators. It is the higher level needs like esteem and self-actualization, which are more important for the purpose of motivation. Similarly, according to Herzberg, hygiene factors like pay, working conditions must be present to provide the necessary environment for motivation. Once this is done, the motivators like advancement, responsibilities go into play and actuate the individual.

But it would be wrong to make much of the aforesaid over-all alikeness. Rather it would be doing injustice to the pioneers whose originality and deep insight are well recognized a staircase cannot be equated with a room although basically nearly the same materials may have been used to build both.

(b) Difference: Herzberg’s model differs from Maslow’s model in respect of the following:

(i) An important point of difference is that the lower level needs of individuals like food, shelter, and job security are regarded by Maslow as having the power or potency to motivate them. But to Herzberg these are just hygienie factors; of they are absent, there is dissatisfaction, but their presence does not by itself provide any motivation. The motivators in Herzberg’s theory are a class apart from hygiene factors. But all the needs according to Maslow are motivators, depending on the mental level, in which an individual is placed.

(ii) Another difference is that Maslow formulated his theory out of his insight, individual thinking and experience as a psychiatrist, but Herzberg arrived at his findings from the responses to questions put by his team of researchers to a specified class of employees, viz., engineers and accountants.

(iii) Maslow emphasized the need of human beings for all 24hours of the day whereas; Herzberg was concerned with the needs of employees in relation to their work and work environment. So, the claim to universality is stronger in the case of Maslow’s theory than in that of Herzberg’s theory.

(iv) Again, Maslow’s theory applies to human beings in general including employees of all categories. But Herzberg’s theory concentrates on the motivation of professional people including engineers, accountants, agricultural administrators and the like, i.e., persons whose positions in an organisation are usually higher than rank and file.

Appraisal of Herzberg’s model:

Herzberg’s theory provides an insight into the task of motivation by drawing attention to the importance of job factors which are often overlooked. Particularly, it shows the value of job enrichment in motivation. However, Herzberg’s theory has not gone unchallenged. It has been criticized on the following grounds:

(i) Herzberg drew conclusions from a limited study covering engineers and accountants. Engineers, accountants and other professionals may like responsibility and challenging jobs. But the general body of workers are motivated by pay and other financial benefits.

(ii) In Herzberg’s study, the interviewees were asked to report exceptionally good or exceptionally bad moments. This methodology is defective because there is a common bias among human beings to take more credit for good things and put the blame on others for bad things.

(iii) Herzberg gave too much emphasis on job enrichment. But job enrichment is not the only answer. Off-the-job satisfaction of the workers is also very important. Herzberg did not attach much importance to pay, status of interpersonal relationship, which are generally held as important contents of satisfaction.