Briefly discuss Herzberg’s Two-factor theory and illustrate how managers can use it to enhance job satisfaction

Overview of the theory

Like Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation, Herzberg’s Motivation Theory or Two-factor theory is also a model centering on the concept of workplace/employee motivation. Similarly, as Maslow had suggested, Herzberg also proffered the notion that individuals seek the satisfaction of higher-level needs as they are discontent with only the satisfaction of lower-level needs. In contrast, Herzberg’s theory of motivation varied from Maslow’s idea based on the supposition that motivation depends on two factors. Thus, Herzberg further enhanced the idea of workplace motivation by suggesting that motivation hinges on two separate factors: motivational factors and hygiene factors. The two-factor theory surmises that the presence of motivators, on the one hand, increases satisfaction while, on the other hand, the absence of hygiene factors causes dissatisfaction. Effectively, rather than being on the same continuum as initially believed, i.e., that an increase in satisfaction causes a decrease in dissatisfaction, satisfaction and dissatisfaction are, in fact, on separate scales.

Herzberg suggested that the two factors that affect workplace motivation are motivators and hygiene factors. Motivators, on the one hand, denote the factors that stimulate employee desire for hard work. Thus, the presence of motivators in a workplace increases employee satisfaction. The motivators referred to above can range from factors such as success, acknowledgment, job status, duties, advancement opportunities, individual development, and the nature of the work. On the other hand, hygiene factors are the considerations that, when absent, discourage employees from working harder. Such hygiene factors include salary, safety, security, job conditions, company procedures, control, and relationships.

How managers can use Herzberg’s Two-Factor theory to enhance Job Satisfaction

Firstly, managers can use the two-factor theory to eliminate job stressors in order to improve job satisfaction. The Herzberg theory divides the factors responsible for satisfaction into motivators and hygiene factors. While motivators denote the considerations that increase satisfaction, hygiene factors denote those whose absence causes dissatisfaction. The aforementioned demarcation of factors equips managers with knowledge regarding the underlying cause of motivation or dissatisfaction. With this idea in mind, managers can prompt employees to identify the stressors they believe cause dissatisfaction. This will enable managers to understand the source of dissatisfaction among various employees and find ways to eliminate such factors. The most common hygiene factors include supervision, salary, nature of the job, and company policies. Some tips managers can use to improve employee satisfaction in relation to the hygiene factors listed above include reducing employee supervision/micro-management through a democratic management approach, offering industry-average salaries at a minimum, enriching jobs to create meaning, and eliminating extreme company procedures.

The Herzberg theory can also help managers to improve the nature of each job to boost an employee’s job satisfaction. A job’s meaningfulness is a critical aspect that cannot be emphasized enough. Although workers can take up any job, many have cited the importance of finding meaning in their job. Meaningfulness is the reason that keeps employees attached to their job besides the regular remuneration at month’s end. Job meaningfulness depends on various factors, including status or identity, connections, challenges, and impact of the job on society. Since the absence of meaningfulness may cause employee dissatisfaction, this theory enlightens managers about hygiene factors that could cause employee dissatisfaction. This ideology or just the complaints of employees could help managers to improve jobs in order to make them more meaningful.

Thirdly, the two-factor theory sensitizes managers to improve employees’ working conditions, thus helping them improve job satisfaction. The two-factor theory supposes that motivation depends on two factors. Hygiene factors point out the various sources of dissatisfaction, including safety and working conditions. Identification of the job stressors alerts managers to take requisite actions to resolve such issues in a bid to resolve dissatisfaction. Therefore, the two-factor theory also offers a framework for managers to enhance job satisfaction by removing workplace stressors.

The two-factor theory also enlightens managers to develop a culture of appreciating employee input. Herzberg’s theory surmises that there is more to work than just remuneration. Individuals are not satisfied only by lower-level desires such as remuneration, as they also desire the attainment of higher-level psychological needs. Essentially, employees also look forward to recognition and appreciation of their efforts in the organization. In recognition of this fact, managers should design workplace systems that recognize and award employees for excellent input. This should help towards improving job satisfaction.  

In summary, Herzberg’s two-factor theory refers to a psychological notion of the concept of workplace motivation. The theory resembles Maslow’s theory of motivation, which supposes that individual pursuits depend on the desire for higher-level needs. However, in variance to Maslow’s theory, the two-factor theory supposes that motivation depends on two factors: motivators and hygiene, which are independent. Therefore, the two-factor theory denotes a psychological explanation of workplace motivation that supposes the idea that motivation hinges on two factors consisting of motivators and hygiene factors. Knowledge of this idea can help managers in the organization improve job satisfaction.

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