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Frederick Herzberg – Motivation Theory Essay

It’s no secret that the success of a company in the field of professional services directly depends on people. Skills, experience, and knowledge of the staff are the main asset of the company. Thus, after setting the goal and object of work, the main task of the manager is to organize the working process, in particular to force employees to work, through motivating them and inducing to action.

Motivation is a way to encourage oneself and others to purposeful action aimed at achieving the goal. It is a certain external factor affecting an individual and his inner state, which increases the desire to work. In the development of business theory, directors and managers have noticed that the material factors do not motivate employees enough. The study of human needs has led to theories based on the assertion that the main motivating factor is not material, but psychological.

The two-factor theory of motivation is the psychological motivation theory, established in late 1950’s by Frederick Herzberg and based on human needs. According to this theory, along with certain factors that cause job satisfaction, there are factors that cause dissatisfaction from work.

At Herzberg’s request, 200 engineers and accountants of a large company described situations, when their work brought them particular satisfaction, and when they did not like it particularly. In the result of experiments, Herzberg concluded that there are two main categories of factors in evaluating the degree of satisfaction from work performed: 1) Hygiene factors, deterring at work (administrative policy of the company, labor conditions, salary, interpersonal relations with superiors, colleagues and subordinates, etc.); 2) Motivators, actually motivating the work (achievement, recognition, responsibility, opportunities for career growth, etc.) (Herzberg 54-60).

Good working conditions (hygiene factors) bind employees to the enterprise, but do not induce to increasing productivity. In their turn, motivators relate to the content of work; increase of productivity and job satisfaction factually depends on motivators. F. Herzberg states that the motivation “switches on” people, generating their interest to work. Success, recognition and challenge are the part of work. The fact that employees do their work and develop is due to the fact that their job allows it. Responsibility increase and promotion is the result of good job. Thus, motivation at work is related to the physical work performed, while negative moments relate to the work environment (Herzberg 95-101).

If a company wants to stimulate an employee, it cannot do this by providing better working conditions. An employee would be encouraged, if he would be given a job, throwing him a challenge and an opportunity to succeed; this allows him to grow and develop. But at the same time, employees would complain about the factors of hygiene, the chief controlling them, conditions of work, low salaries, etc. These are the things making them feel unhappy. Employees do not complain about the lack of motivation, because they are not aware of it. But if a company really needs a good employee, it should give him a job, having good content, allowing to grow, experience difficulties and achieve success (Hansen 64 – 72).

Researches on factors causing satisfaction or dissatisfaction conducted by Herzberg proved that the process of gaining satisfaction and the process of growing dissatisfaction are two different processes. This is confirmed by the fact that factors causing dissatisfaction growth do not necessarily lead to increased satisfaction with their removal, and vice versa (Latham 27-30).

F. Herzberg’s ideas formed the basis for the program of “job enrichment”, which was successfully used by a number of leading U.S. corporations. The development of this program depends on the fulfillment of certain conditions, which are necessary for the success of employees: a) employees should know about the results of their activity and its evaluation; b) employees should have the opportunity of psychological growth; c) employees should form their working timetable themselves; d) employees should bear a part of liability; e) employees should be able to communicate with managers of all levels; f) employees should be accountable for their activities (Sachau 377-393).

The motivation system should provide every participant with an opportunity to choose reward methods in accordance with his personal scale of values. Classic material stimuli in the form of payment and bonuses constrict their effect, yielding place to the expectation of rewards from the work as such, its results and process. However, the fact that money were assigned to the group of hygiene factors, rather than to motivators, was unexpected. In this connection, there typically exist material, labor and status systems of motivation. A striking manifestation of management contradictions is the lack of positive ratio between job satisfaction and productivity of a single employee. Studies have shown that there are no guarantees that less dissatisfied employees work worse than satisfied ones (Sheldrake 153-161).

For applying the theory of F. Herzberg in practice, the two profiles should be constructed by means of sociological opinion poll methods: profiles of working conditions and the content of work on separate parts of an enterprise. After processing the survey data and its analysis, the researcher is usually able to see the weaknesses of production and to develop approaches for addressing them.

The main significance of F. Herzberg’s theory is that managers began to realize that one should not focus on hygiene factors as the main ones in addressing the needs, if the needs of lower levels had already been met (Tietjen 226-231). In general, the influence of Herzberg’s theories with regards to the methods of human resource management applied in companies has become extremely significant and resulted in positive outcomes (the impact varies depending on the country of origin of companies).

F. Herzberg’s ideas contributed greatly to the development of movement for the reorganization of labor, changes within companies and changes in labor relations in most industrialized countries, previously relying on the concept of division of labor by F. Taylor and G. Ford and having a limited view on an individual in the process of work, on his motivation and his expectations. Factually denying the basic Taylor’s and Ford’s conception of human nature, Herzberg persistently reminded that the most powerful stimulus for an employee is the interested towards what he does, his involvement in the labor process, and that an employee is not a machine and finds it difficult to work in organizations alienating him from the results of labor (Sachau 377-393). Frederick Herzberg made possible the new way of thinking concerning the labor process as such and its organization, presenting them depending on the interests of employees to their activity, not only to the amount of their salaries (Tietjen 226-231).

Another important result of Frederick Herzberg’s theory lies in modifying the concept of the division of labor and the unlimited command power of management. Autonomy was again returned to an employee of both high and low qualification. Thus, in addition to working conditions, the organization of labor was also subjected to rethinking. Providing employees with additional opportunities for the organization of activities through monitoring and technical maintenance meant the weakening of the traditional division of labor and denial of Taylor’s “shut up and work” slogan. In this regard, Frederick Herzberg was the initiator of creating more adaptable and more flexible organizations, as well as the so-called network companies.


Works Cited:

Hansen, Frederick, Smith, Michele, and Ries B. Hansen. “Rewards and Recognition in Employee Motivation”. Compensation & Benefits Review 34 (2002): 64 – 72. Print.

Herzberg, Frederick. Motivation to Work. Transaction Publishers, 1993. Print.

Latham, Gary P. Work Motivation: History, Theory, Research, and Practice. SAGE Publications, 2006. Print.

Sachau, Daniel A. “Resurrecting the Motivation-Hygiene Theory: Herzberg and the Positive Psychology Movement”. Human Resource Development Review 6 (2007): 377 – 393. Print.

Sheldrake, John. Management theory. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2003. Print.

Tietjen, Mark A., and Robert M. Myers. “Motivation and job satisfaction”. Management Decision 36.4 (1998): 226-231. Print.

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