Two-factor theory definition

Also known as Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory and the dual-factor theory, the two-factor theory separates out job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction and suggests that they work independently of each other in the workplace.

Proposed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg, two-factor theory essentially separates out the concept of satisfaction from a continuum into two separate spectrums.

So there are certain cues and environmental stimuli that cause job satisfaction and certain things that cause job dissatisfaction, and multiple factors can be happening at any one time and affecting both.

These are broken into motivators and hygiene factors – the former, such as recognition and increasing responsibility, increase satisfaction, while the latter do not give satisfaction but if they are absent they increase job dissatisfaction. Examples of hygiene factors are job security, salary and employee benefits.

Herzberg believed that eliminating hygiene factors would reduce dissatisfaction in the workplace.

For managers, the theory presents as a belief that increasing factors that improve satisfaction do not automatically mean a reduction in levels of dissatisfaction.


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