The Dual Factor Theory of Frederick Herzberg

“Since companies are constituted by individuals, it is necessary the existence of a Psychology of the Work and of the organizations that are in charge of studying the functioning of these within the organizations.”

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“Since companies are constituted by individuals, it is necessary the existence of a Psychology of the Work and of the organizations that are in charge of studying the functioning of these within the organizations.”

Within this psychology of organizations, the psychologist Frederick Herzberg stood out, who was interested in the study of job satisfaction and created the well-known theory of the dual factor of Herzberg.

Who was Frederick Herzberg?

Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000) was an American psychologist who became one of the most reputable people in the field of business management and administration. Thanks to its dual factor theory and the implementation of work enrichment, it gained great recognition within the field of work psychology and organizations, an area in which proposals that lead to a more efficient management of capital are always welcome. human, as well as welfare in the company.

What is Herzberg’s Dual Factor Theory?

Also known as Theory of Motivation and Hygiene of Herzberg, it hypothesizes about the factors that produce satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the worker and how it covers their work needs.

The basis of the theory is that the elements that cause job satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the worker are completely different natures. Also, the theory is rooted in the idea that the person has two types of needs: the need to avoid pain or 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 the duality. This duality consists of two types of factors that operate in the labor motivation: the hygienic factors and the factors of motivation. Both explain a good part of the work dynamics that take place within organizations.

The two factors of Herzberg

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

Hygiene factors

Hygiene factors include those factors extrinsic to the worker and are mainly associated with job dissatisfaction.

The hygiene factors are located in the environment that surrounds the worker and includes the conditions that determine the work carried out by this. It is said that these factors are extrinsic because they depend on the decisions of the company and the way it has to manage them.

According to Herzberg, throughout history the people in charge of directing and managing companies only took hygienic factors into account as a means to motivate or punish the worker. Companies and industries used prizes and salary incentives, flexible company policies and external rewards with the ultimate goal of getting workers to produce in greater quantity.

The factors that Herzberg categorized as hygiene are:

  • Salary and other economic or material incentives
  • Company and organization policies
  • Affinity links with peers
  • Physical context where the worker carries out his tasks
  • Surveillance and supervision of the worker
  • Status or position occupied by the worker within the company
  • Stability of the workplace

However, the research carried out by Herzberg concluded that these factors were only useful to diminish or avoid dissatisfaction in the workers, but not to generate a genuine satisfaction with their work. In addition, when the worker considered that these factors were not excellent or appropriate enough, they generated discontent very quickly.

Motivation factors

Unlike hygiene factors, the motivation factors are intrinsic to workers, since they are directly associated with satisfaction with the position as well as with the nature or type of tasks that the person performs within the company.

These motivational factors would be under the domain of the individual, and include the feelings or perception that the worker has about their growth and development within the company, as well as professional recognition, the desire for self-fulfillment and the need for responsibilities, etc.

For a long time, jobs were created with the intention of meeting the efficiency and economic needs of the company, eliminating any possibility that the worker felt motivated to grow or develop their work creativity, causing a feeling of indifference and reluctance.

These intrinsic motivational factors are:

  • Faculty stimulating work
  • Feelings of self-realization
  • Achievements
  • Recognition by superiors
  • Possibility of increased responsibilities


After identifying all these factors, Herzberg drew a series of conclusions that complemented his theory:

  • A bad environment causes immediate dissatisfaction among workers, but a healthy work environment does not guarantee their satisfaction.
  • Avoiding job dissatisfaction is just as important as promoting job satisfaction.
  • Hygiene factors and motivation factors are activated and deactivated independently, being able to give characteristics of both factors in the same person.
  • Hygiene factors all have the same relevance.
  • The improvement and development of hygiene factors have positive effects in the short term.
  • Hygiene factors are temporary and cyclical. So the worker is renewing these needs as time passes.

Enrichment of tasks according to this psychologist

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, Frederick Herzberg also acquired his popularity within the psychology of work thanks to the introduction of task enrichment.

The own Herzberg elaborated a series of advice to improve the satisfaction of the workers.

These tips are:

  • Abolish or eliminate certain controls while maintaining the responsibility of the worker on his own task.
  • Increase the number of responsibilities that fall on each worker.
  • Lower authority from the top of the company and greater freedom for workers.
  • Feedback on the results and objectives of each worker.
  • Assignment and distribution of new and different tasks, increasing the degree of complexity of these.
  • Assignment of tasks that allow the worker to demonstrate their skills and progress professionally.

Find more about it watching the following video:

Hope this post has been interesting for you and looking forward to your comments!


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