Frederick Herzberg’s motivation and hygiene factors

Herzberg was the first to show that satisfaction and dissatisfaction at work nearly always arose from different factors, and were not simply opposing reactions to the same factors, as had always previously been (and still now by the unenlightened) believed. He showed that certain factors truly motivate (‘motivators’), whereas others tended to lead to dissatisfaction (‘hygiene factors’). These hygiene factors need to be addressed and resolved before motivators can be effective.


Herzberg’s research proved that people will strive to achieve hygiene needs because they are unhappy without them, but once satisfied the effect soon wears off, therefore satisfaction is temporary.

Herzberg Hygiene FactorsExamples of hygiene needs (or maintenance factors) in the workplace are:

  • policy
  • relationship with supervisor
  • work conditions
  • salary
  • company car
  • status
  • security
  • relationship with subordinates
  • personal life


True motivators were found to be other completely different factors, notably in Herzberg’s research factors such as:

  • achievement
  • recognition
  • work itself
  • responsibility
  • advancement
  • personal growth
Hygiene factors are merely the launch pad – when damaged or undermined we have no platform, but in themselves they do not motivate.

Herzberg Graph
Frederick Herzberg’s book ‘The Motivation to Work’, written with research colleagues Bernard Mausner and Barbara Bloch Snyderman in 1959, first established his theories about motivation in the workplace. Herzberg’s survey work, originally on 200 Pittsburgh engineers and accountants remains a fundamentally important reference in motivational study. While the study involved only 200 people, Herzberg’s considerable preparatory investigations, and the design of the research itself, enabled Herzberg and his colleagues to gather and analyse an extremely sophisticated level of data.



institute of promotional marketingContent for this blog has been provided courtesy of the IPM and is incorporated into the IPM Diploma in Motivation. To find out more about the diploma or to enrol click here.


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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