Herzberg's two factor theory

  • Sep 13, 2021

The success of a company or business depends on various components, one of the most important being the worker performance. In turn, the performance of these workers can be positive or negative and much will depend on some factors that surround it.

In this regard, the American psychologist Frederick Herzberg formulated a theory in which he states that there are two major factors that shape worker behavior. On the one hand, there is the satisfaction factor and on the other the dissatisfaction factor; According to the author, although they seem opposing factors, both are develop on the same plane.


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But what does Herzberg's two-factor theory refer to specifically? How can its implementation affect a company?


In this article you will find:

What is the theory of the two factors

As already mentioned, Herzberg argues that there are two factors that would explain the reason for the behavior of a worker within a company.

  1. One of these factors is satisfaction, also called intrinsic factors, that is related to the well-being that the worker feels with his tasks. That is, it involves the feelings generated by the position or the performance of the individual within the organization. Therefore, this factor is under the control of each of them.
  2. On the other hand, the dissatisfaction factor, also known as extrinsic or hygienic factors, is related to the work environment that surrounds the individual. Therefore, it can be concluded that these factors are not under the control of the worker.

An important aspect of Herzberg theory is that these two factors are not opposites; in other words, the existence of one does not eliminate the existence of the other. For this reason, this theory can be summarized by stating that the worker has two great needs: to avoid the unpleasant and to grow emotionally and intellectually.


To better understand it, it is imperative to know the aspects that influence each of the major categories raised.

Satisfaction factors

Motivational elements influence worker satisfaction, this influence can be long-term and their absence has little impact on dissatisfaction. Being related to the tasks performed and their relationship with them, this factor is under the control of the worker.


These factors include:

  • Achievements: achieving objectives that the worker himself has set helps to keep him motivated.
  • Acknowledgments: being distinguished for having a good performance generates well-being.
  • Labor independence: refers to the trust that the company places in the individual to have a certain level of freedom to perform certain tasks.
  • Promotion: climbing steps to do a good job and develop certain skills.

Dissatisfaction factors

The environment that surrounds the worker has a certain influence on his performance. These factors are beyond the worker's control, since they are the company's decision. The presence of these elements only influences satisfaction in the short term.


But when any of the elements that make up this factor are inadequate, they cause dissatisfaction in the worker. Among them are:

  • Payments and benefits: This is one of the basic needs of the worker and it is the company in charge of establishing the amount and the time to pay.
  • Business policies: to achieve the objectives, the company establishes certain standards and strategies that regulate the performance of the worker.
  • Relationship with colleagues: within an organization each individual must interact with co-workers.
  • Physical environment: refers to the place where the individual develops the tasks in charge of him. It can be an office, production room, among others.
  • Job security: are the elements and conditions that guarantee the physical well-being of the individual while performing their tasks.
  • Growth and consolidation: Most workers have the desire for progress and it is the company that provides these opportunities.
  • Status: feeling recognized for the achievements obtained is a necessity of the individual.

How to implement the theory of the two factors in a company?

Knowing the two factors that make up Herzberg's theory, a company can use them to its advantage to increase the performance of its workers. As it does? Motivating your workers and eliminating elements that may be the cause of complaints.

Eliminate dissatisfaction

In this aspect, it is important to know how employees feel, what makes them complain, how is the relationship between them. When detecting a fault, the necessary changes must be made to eliminate the dissatisfaction it generates.

Some items that you can pay attention to are:

  • The effectiveness of institutional policies.
  • Supervise that the bureaucracy is not a point of stagnation.
  • Promote respect among workers.
  • Make sure to offer salaries and benefits that adjust to the reality of the sector in which the company develops.
  • Offer good safety in the work area.
  • Grant due recognition to workers who stand out for their performance.

Once the factors causing dissatisfaction in workers have been eradicated, the company can focus on motivating them.

Increase satisfaction

Offering the conditions for the worker to have feelings of satisfaction will increase their productivity and their commitment to the organization.

To do this, you must pay close attention to:

  • Create an environment with the right conditions for the individual to carry out her tasks.
  • Show appreciation every time a worker makes effective contributions. This will make him feel like he is good at what he does.
  • Knowing the strengths of each individual and assigning tasks that are consistent with these skills is essential to achieve good performance.
  • Offer more responsibilities to each team as they achieve goals.
  • Provide opportunities for the individual to grow within the company.
  • Offer training so that the worker can develop new skills or perfect those he already has.

Various studies have shown that when a workforce feels motivated and their dissatisfaction is low, their performance improves. Productivity can increase by more than 40% and your level of commitment by almost 30%, therefore, you need to pay attention to both factors.

Sources and references:

  • https://www.upg.mx/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/LIBRO-12-Administracion-de-recursos-humanos.-El-capital-humano.pdf (page 53)
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