Frederick Herzberg

Frederick Herzberg (Life and Work): Frederick Herzberg was an important studious of human motivations having given a significant…

Frederick Herzberg (Life and Work)

Frederick Herzberg was an important studious of human motivations having given a significant contribution for the Behavioral School and for the Human Relations Theory. Unlike Maslow that limited his theory to individual psychology without specific reference to the organization, Frederick Herzberg made that connection through his analysis about the reasons that influence the people’s work in the organizations.

Herzberg distinguishes two types of factors that influence the employees’ motivation – hygienic factors and motivational factors:

  1. Hygienic Factors: Only influence motivation negatively when they are not satisfied, becoming neutral when satisfied. From here it can be concluded that when one of the needs represented by these factors is not satisfied, discouragement is caused. But, if on the other hand the need is satisfied, is not caused either motivation or discouragement. They include the salary, work conditions, technical supervision, personal relationships with supervisors, colleagues and subordinates, rules and the organization’s way of working, among others.
  2. Motivational Factors: Influence motivation positively, being, when satisfied the needs associated to them contribute to a motivation increase and, if on the other hand the need is not satisfied, is not caused either motivation or discourage. They include the possibilities of personal success and professional progress, the responsibility given to them, the recognition for the successes, inter-personal relations, the nature of the performed tasks, etc.

Until here, Herzberg little added to Maslow’s theory. In fact, Herzberg’s hygienic factors are very similar to the inferior needs (physiologic, safety and social) of Maslow, while the motivational factors correspond to the superior needs (esteem and self-fulfillment). The main difference is in the fact that Maslow considers that any unsatisfied need motivates an action, while Herzberg affirms that only the motivational factors incentive the performance of work, being, create motivation.

For Herzberg, low levels of hygienic factors cause discontent, which is canceled when those factors reach an adequate level; however, the inexistence of discontent is not enough for the existence of motivation for a better performance at work, what is only achieved through the motivational factors. On the other hand, the lack of motivator factors simply means the inexistence of motivation and not necessarily discontent. This way, hygienic factors are powerful sources of discontent but rarely of motivation, while motivational are powerful sources of motivation but rarely of discontent.

From this we can conclude, for example, salary levels should correspond to the expectations to avoid discontent but to raise them beyond the expectations doesn’t mean significant motivation increase.

Therefore, a way to achieve an employee continuous motivation is through the attribution of more complex duties and tasks and with a higher challenging level as well as that they follow the personal and professional development. This is the base of the known, and, already commonly used in actual organizations, tasks enrichment programs. The main goal of these programs is the increase of productivity provided by higher motivation and by absence reduction.

His main work is “Work and the Nature of a Man” published in 1966.

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