Frederick Herzberg’s Double Factor Theory

Since companies are made up of individuals, it is necessary to have a work psychology and organizations responsible for studying the functioning of these within organizations.

Within this organizational psychology stands out the psychologist Frederick Herzberg, who is interested in the study of job satisfaction and he created Herzberg’s famous double factor theory.

    Who was Frederick Herzberg?

    Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000) was an American psychologist who became one of the most prestigious people in the field of management and business administration. Thanks to his double factor theory and the implementation of work enrichment, he has gained great recognition in the field of work and organizational psychology, a field in which proposals are always welcome that lead more efficient management of human capital as well as – being in the company.

    What is Herzberg’s double factor theory?

    Also known as Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation and Hygiene, In its assumptions about the factors that produce satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the worker and how this covers his labor needs.

    The basis of the theory is that the elements that cause work satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the worker are of a totally different nature. The theory is also rooted in the idea that the person has two types of needs: the need to avoid pain or the events that cause discomfort and, on the other hand, the need or desire to progress and mature both emotionally as an intellectual. .

    When this system of needs is applied to the workplace, they need different incentives, hence duality. This duality is made up of two types of factors that affect motivation at work: hygienic and motivational factors. Both help to explain a large part of the work dynamics that take place within organizations.

      The two Herzberg factors

      As mentioned above, the theory proposed by Herzberg consists of two factors that modulate the motivation of the worker.

      Hygiene factors

      Hygiene factors encompass those factors extrinsic to the worker and are primarily associated with job dissatisfaction.

      Hygiene factors are located in the environment around the worker and include the conditions that determine the work they perform. These factors are said to be extrinsic because these depend on the decisions of the company and the way in which it must manage them.

      According to Herzberg, throughout history, those in charge of running and managing companies have viewed hygiene factors only as a way to motivate or punish the worker. Businesses and industries have used wage premiums and incentives, flexible company policies and external rewards with the ultimate goal of getting workers to produce in larger quantities.

      The factors that Herzberg classified as hygiene are:

      • Salary and other economic incentives or materials
      • Company and organizational policies
      • Peer affinity ties
      • Physical context where the worker performs his tasks
      • Worker monitoring and supervision
      • status or position held by the worker within the company
      • Workplace stability

      However, Herzberg’s research concluded that these factors were only helpful in reducing or avoiding worker dissatisfaction, but not generating real satisfaction with their work. In addition, when the worker felt that these factors were not sufficiently excellent or appropriate, they very quickly generated dissatisfaction.

        Motivating factors

        Unlike hygiene factors, motivational factors are intrinsic to workers, as they are directly associated with satisfaction with both the job and the nature or type of tasks that the person exercises within the company.

        These motivators would be under the control of the individual and would include the feelings or perception that the worker has of his or her growth and development within the company, as well as professional recognition, desire for self-actualization and the need for responsibilities, etc. .

        For a long time, jobs were created with the intention to cover the efficiency and economic needs of the company, Eliminate any possibility that the worker will feel motivated to grow or develop his professional creativity, causing a feeling of indifference and reluctance.

        These intrinsic motivators are:

        • Stimulating work faculty
        • Feelings of self-actualization
        • achievements
        • Recognition by superiors
        • Possibility of increasing responsibilities


        After identifying all of these factors, Herzberg drew a number of conclusions that supplemented his theory:

        • A bad atmosphere causes immediate dissatisfaction among workers, but a healthy working environment does not guarantee their satisfaction.
        • Avoiding job dissatisfaction is just as important as promote job satisfaction.
        • Hygiene and motivational factors are turned on and off independently, and characteristics of both factors can occur in the same person.
        • Hygiene factors all have the same relevance.
        • The improvement and development of hygiene factors have short-term positive effects.
        • Hygiene factors are temporary and cyclical. The worker therefore renews these needs over time.

        Enrichment of tasks according to this psychologist

        As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Frederick Herzberg also gained popularity in work psychology with the introduction of job enrichment. Herzberg himself has developed a series of tips to improve worker satisfaction.

        These tips are:

        • Abolish the eliminate certain controls while maintaining the responsibility of the worker about his own work.
        • Increase the number of responsibilities that fall on each worker.
        • Less authority at the top of the company and more freedom for the workers.
        • Feedback on results and objectives of each worker.
        • Assignment and distribution of new and different tasks, increasing their degree of complexity.
        • Assignment of tasks that allow the worker demonstrate their skills and progress professionally.

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