Frederick Herzberg: Exploring What Motivates Us

Any good manager knows that happy, satisfied workers will generally perform better than those who don't feel as satisfied. However, managers have always had differing opinions about what it takes to satisfy workers.

During the 50's and 60's, a man named Fredrick Herzberg decided to carefully study and research the key factors affecting a worker's performance. During his research, he found that certain factors tended to cause a worker to feel unsatisfied with his or her job. These factors seemed to directly relate to the employee's environment such as the physical surroundings, supervisors and even the company itself. He developed a theory based on this observation, naming it the "Hygiene Theory."

According to his theory, for a worker to be happy and therefore productive, these environmental factors must not cause discomfort. Although the elimination of the environmental problems may make a worker productive, it will not necessarily motivate him. The question remains, "How can managers motivate employees?" Many managers believe that motivating employees requires giving rewards. Herzberg, however, believed that the workers get motivated through feeling responsible for and connected to their work. In this case, the work itself is rewarding. Managers can help the employees connect to their work by giving them more authority over the job, as well as offering direct and individual feedback.

Fredrick Herzberg. Hygiene Motivation Theory Research