Herzberg’s theory


Herzberg's theory "is based on the premise that things leading to job satisfaction are distinct from those leading to job dissatisfaction" (main photocopy). It was formulated by carrying out interviews with 200 accountants and engineers. He simply asked them two questions which were: what were the factors in the job which made them feel 'good' and what were the factors that made them feel 'bad'. He gathered the data and found that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction were caused by two different sets of factors. The two sets were names motivators and hygienes. Motivators as the name suggests motive staff but if they were not present staff were not dissatisfied. Hygienes factors on the other hand lead to job dissatisfaction when not present but when they were it did not motivate the staff.

The hygiene factors were found to be related to the context in which the job was done. They are expected to be present and if the elements are not adequate it can lead to staff feeling demotivated. Working conditions is listed as being most strongly connected with dissatisfaction. Others are interpersonal relationships, supervision, company and policy administration, job security and salary.

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Motivators were concerned with the job content and the elements of the job that people find rewarding in themselves. The motivator which is most strongly linked with job satisfaction is achievement. Other motivators are recognition, the work itself, responsibility and advancement. Hygiene factors and motivators can be related to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Hygiene factors link to the lower level needs and the motivators to the higher level needs.

Although the theory has been around since 1987, managers can still use Herzberg's ideas in order to motivate their staff. Managers can make sure that all hygiene factors are adequately fulfilled so that staffs are not demotivated. Simple things such as the photocopier not working can have a dramatic effect on staff's mood, as they do not feel the manager is bothered by their role. If the manager makes sure that the workplace is in working order and is sufficiently decorated with all the needed facilities, then this is one step closer to avoiding a dissatisfied work team. The manager can then look at the motivators and try and make sure that they are present for the staff. For example with achievement, the manager can make sure that the employee has challenging enough work that they feel satisfied once they have achieved it. Also they can be given set targets so that they have something to aim for and hopefully achieve.

The expectancy theory by Vroom has two main components: expectancy and valance. Expectancy is the person's perceived chance of achieving an outcome after a certain activity. The stronger the perceived probability that by achieving one the other will follow means there is a stronger expectancy. The term valence is to do with the person's attitude towards the outcome that may happen. It is to do with expectations rather than the actual experience. If the valence is positive it means that the person would prefer to attain that outcome rather than to not. Whereas a negative valence means that the person would prefer not to attain the outcome. Valence can also be at zero which means the person does not mind if they attain the outcome or not. People are most likely to be motivated when expectancy is strong and when valence is either positive or negative. Valence can be negative as the person is motivated to avoid a certain outcome, for example could be motivated to work so they do not have to go through disciplinary. There is also a third element in this theory which is instrumentality. Instrumentality is the perception that an interim outcome will lead to another outcome.

This theory can be expressed also as a formula, F= V x I x E. The force (F) of a person's motivation is dependent on the level of the valance (V), instrumentality (I) and expectancy (E). As the formula is a multiplication it means that if any of the three elements are zero, it will mean the motivation force equals zero too despite even if they have high ratings on the other two variables. Therefore in order for a person to be motivated there needs to be levels of valance, instrumentality and expectancy.

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A manager can look at the basic principles of the expectancy theory and use it to help motivate their staff. The message of expectancy theory is that managers should offer rewards that employee's value, set performance levels that they can reach and ensure a strong link between performance and reward. For example according to the expectancy theory, if staff were to be paid by piece rate it would increase their motivation. There would be a positive valance as the staff would prefer to be paid then not to be paid. The amount of money that they receive is likely to be important to them. There will also be positive instrumentality because attainment of pay is certain if performance is achieved. And the level of expectancy will be high as there is an extremely high probability that if they work hard they will gain more pay. However managers that do try and use the expectancy theory as a tool to motivate their employees need to remember that although generalisations can be made about what people find rewarding, the perception of the reward cannot be generalised and will very much vary for each individual. 

There are similarities and differences about these two theories. The first difference is that Herzberg's theory is a content theory and the expectancy theory is a process theory. A content theory 'assumes that all individuals possess the same set of needs' (big text book). As in Herzberg's theory it is very generalized and assumes that all employees will find the same things motivating and demotivating. Whereas a process theory puts emphasis on the differences in employees needs and focus on the 'cognitive processes in determining his or her level of motivation' (textbook). The expectancy theory talks about the cognitive processes that an individual will go through, as they think of through which would be the greatest reward or satisfaction with what seems like an appropriate amount of effort. 

A further difference between the theorists is that Herzberg does not believe that it is motivation when an individual does something out of fear of punishment or failure; he thinks this should be called 'movement' as it is not motivation at all. On the other hand Vroom does believe that this can be a form of motivation. When valance is negative it means that the person prefers not to attain an outcome than to attain it. People will still be motivated towards a goal if it means that a situation or outcome can be avoided by doing so. For example if a member of staff was doing a task in order to avoid being disciplined, Vroom would say the employee is motivated and Herzberg would say that this is not a motivated employee and it is movement instead.