What is Herzberg Motivation Hygiene theory?

Herzberg’s theory that intrinsic factors are related to job satisfaction and extrinsic factors are related to job dissatisfaction

The motivation hygiene theory was proposed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg. Believing that an individual’s attitude toward his or her work can determine success or failure, Herzberg investigated the question of what people want from their jobs. He asked people to describe in detail situations in which they felt exceptionally good or bad about their jobs. Their responses were then tabulated and categorized. Exhibit below represent Herzberg’s findings.

Herzberg’s Motivation hygiene Theory


1) Achievement
2) Recognition
3) Work itself
4) Responsibility
5) Advancement
6) Growth

Extremely satisfied

Hygiene Factors

1) Supervision
2) Company policy
3) Relationship with supervisor
4) Working conditions
5) Salary
6) Relationship with peers
7) Personal life
8) Relationship with employees
9) Status
10) Security.

Extremely dissatisfied

After analyzing the responses, Herzberg concluded that the replies of people who felt good about their jobs were significantly different from the replies they gave when they disliked their jobs. As seen in Exhibit certain characteristics were consistently related to job satisfaction (on the left side of the figure) and others to job dissatisfaction (on the right side on the figure). Intrinsic factors such as achievements recognition and responsibility were related to job satisfaction. When the people questioned felt good about their work, they tended to attribute theses characteristics themselves. On the other hand, when they were dissatisfied they tended to cite extrinsic factors such as company policy and administration, supervision, interpersonal relationships, and working conditions.

The data suggest, said Herzberg that the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction, as was traditionally believed. Removing dissatisfying believed. Removing dissatisfying characteristics form a job does not necessarily make the job satisfying. As illustrated below, Herzberg proposed that his findings indicate that the opposite of satisfaction is no satisfaction and the opposite of dissatisfaction is no dissatisfaction.

Contrasting Views of Satisfaction Dissatisfaction

Traditional View >>

Satisfaction >> Dissatisfaction>>

Herzberg’s view


Satisfaction>> No satisfaction

Hygiene factors

No dissatisfaction>> Dissatisfaction.

Hygiene factors

Herzberg’s term for factors such as working conditions and salary that when adequate may eliminate job dissatisfaction but do not necessarily increase job satisfaction.


Herzberg’s term for factors such as recognition and growth that increase job satisfaction.

According to Herzberg, the factors that lead to job satisfaction are separate and distinct from those that lead to job dissatisfaction. Therefore, managers who seek to eliminate factors that create job dissatisfaction can bring about peace but not necessarily motivation: They are placating their workforce rather than motivating it. Because they don’t motivate employees, the factors that eliminate job dissatisfaction were characterized by Herzberg as hygiene factors. When these factors are adequate, people will not be dissatisfied but neither will they be satisfied. To motivate people on their jobs, Herzberg suggested emphasizing motivators, those factors that increase job satisfaction.

The motivation hygiene theory is not without its detractors, who criticize for example the methodology Herzberg used to collect data and his failure to account for situational variables. Regardless of any criticism, Herzberg’s theory has been widely popularized and few managers are unfamiliar with his recommendations. Much of the enthusiasm for enriching jobs – that is, making them more challenging and giving employees more autonomy to work – can be attributed to Herzberg’s findings and recommendations.

  • Ramnath Venkatraman

    Thank you for the article – however, I could not view the Exhibit mentioned

  • Sultan

    it is to be noted that Herzberg’s theory explains the human behavior on the basis of “needs” just like Maslow’s. Roughly speaking, it can be said that Herzberg’s theory is a rearrangement of Human needs in two broader categories instead of five as is the case with Maslow’s.

  • P.Anantha Kumar Menon

    Nicely presented. Expect similar coverages on basic topics.

  • thara

    its really usefull

  • Vivek Hattangadi

    An excellent article and presented in a very professional manner.

  • good prasentation.plz give me full details about personel management & the diff b/w pm and hrm