Hertzberg and Motivation Factor

By Helle Bundgaard | Founder | Motivation Factor©

Motivation Factor’s methodology is based on modern brain science.

“I started with the human brain. Years before, while studying modern brain science, I took the first step to develop Motivation Factor’s tools, framework and programs that gave me the perfect foothold to climb the mountain – to understand what motivation is all about…”

I didn’t start the formation of Motivation Factor’s methodology by interviewing managers and employees. I started with the human brain. Years before, while studying modern brain science, I took the first step to develop Motivation Factor’s tools, framework and programs that gave me the perfect foothold to climb the mountain – to understand what motivation is all about, how we can measure, develop and maintain motivation in a modern working environment.

Nevertheless, when I’m presenting, facilitating, teaching or giving key-notes, people often ask me how Motivation Factor’s methodology and models are linked to the founding figures of motivation psychology like Hertzberg, Maslow, etc.

In general, the thoughts, models and algorithms behind Motivation Factor are influenced by great, well-known theories and results of research: Hertzberg, Maslow, Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, the Flow Theory, etc. Based on modern brain science, we have taken the best from the best, combined, refined and renewed it, and added it into a simple structure – The Hierarchy of Motivation – to make it understandable, actionable and measurable. Yes, measurable! With our methodology, we are able to measure the level of motivation and even the strategic connection to that motivation, something that is incredibly useful when it comes to understanding what drives us.


So where is the connection to the “founding figures”?

In a series of blogs, I will connect the “founding figure’s” theories to what we are offering at Motivation Factor. Let’s start with Frederick Hertzberg.

Frederick Hertzberg…

… was born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1923. When he was 36 years old, he published his famous two-factor theory of job satisfaction in his book The Motivation to Work published in 1959. At the time, this was probably the first scientific research carried out on motivation.

Hertzberg based his theory on 203 interviews with engineers and accountants in Pittsburg. He asked what pleased and what displeased them about their job and the answers were not surprising. The “please-factors” were things like: achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth, while the “displease-factors” were things like: company policies, supervision, relationship with supervisor and peers, work conditions, salary, status and security.

Hertzberg then divided the motivational drivers into two groups: “hygiene factors” and “motivators”.

Hertzberg’s hygiene factors are things like: job security, salary, benefits, work conditions, good pay, paid insurance and vacations. In other words mainly extrinsic, short term motivation factors – things that other people do, or don’t do – or things that other people give you or don’t give you.

Opposite the hygiene factors, Hertzberg’s motivators are things like: challenging work, recognition for one’s achievement, responsibility, opportunity to do something meaningful, involvement in decision making and a sense of importance to an organization. Hertzberg’s motivators are mainly long-term, intrinsic motivation factors, things that come from inside, like feeling a part of something bigger than ourselves and understanding our individual contribution to the overall objectives.

 The paradox…

  • Hertzberg’s almost 60-year-old theory emphasizes the importance of intrinsic motivation factors. Even though a minimum of 90 % of the questions in the annual employee survey are connected to extrinsic factors – or hygiene factors as Hertzberg labelled them.

“Remember: Satisfied employees are not necessarily creative, productive, high performers – but creative, productive, high performing employees are always motivated…”

  • 95 % of all companies with more than 100 employees have conducted some kind of an employee survey within the last 3 years. The employee survey process typically takes 3 months, from initial customization, interviews, etc. to the final result reports, discussions and conclusions.
  • Considering that the employee survey is a three month old snapshot of the situation in the company, the management is then left to make decisions based on old data. Imagine if you went to the doctor, and he asked you – so, how were you three months ago?
  • Some even call the annual event the “satisfaction survey”, but satisfaction and motivation are not the same thing. Remember: Satisfied employees are not necessarily creative, productive, high performers, but creative, productive, high performing employees are always motivated.

Motivation Factor and Hertzberg

There is absolutely no reason to dispute Hertzberg’s theory. It almost perfectly confirms what we know today, but in our model we have added one more factor: the Motivation Capability. Still, much of the modern motivation research links to Hertzberg’s almost 60-year-old theory.

pinpoint motivation

This is how we have linked Hertzberg’s two-factor theory of job satisfaction to Motivation Factor’s models and methodologies.

The Extrinsic Motivation factors in the above model are things coming from the outside in, just like Hertzberg’s hygiene factors. These are almost always things that you expect others to do, or not do, for you or things that you expect others to give, or not give, you. External factors could be: salary, bonus, promotion, equipment, management, etc.

We all recognize the extrinsic factors from the annual employee survey, where more than 90% of the questions are about extrinsic motivation.

Three important things about extrinsic motivation:

  • Extrinsic motivation is short-term motivation.
  • Extrinsic motivation does not make your job more meaningful.
  • The extrinsic factors overall influence on total motivation decreases due to:
    1. …a generally very high level of extrinsic motivation in the working environment.
    2. …new organizational structures like virtual teams and metric organizations, where a higher focus and importance is placed on intrinsic factors.
    3. … new generations, Y and Z, who are much more purpose and intrinsic driven than the “baby boomers” and Generation X.

The Intrinsic Motivation factors come from the inside out, just like most of Hertzberg’s Motivators. It’s all about feeling a part of something bigger than yourself, leveraging your talents and knowing your contribution and purpose related to the overall objective.

Three important things about intrinsic motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation is long term motivation
  • Intrinsic motivation measures the extent to which you responded positively to factors associated with:
    1. …feeling connected to, or finding joy in your work, and with…
    2. actively leveraging your personal talents.
  • Intrinsic motivation is based on taking pleasure in an activity itself, rather than working towards an external reward

Motivation Capabilities is the benchmark for your ability to keep yourself motivated. We believe that motivation is the individual’s responsibility. Motivation is far too important to leave it to someone else. Based on the Hierarchy of Motivation, Motivation Factor provides a simple framework which enables you to take control and ownership of your own motivation.

Three important things about motivation capability:

  • Motivation capability is connected to the individual’s energy and needs. What drains and what enhances your energy, and what obstructs or helps you fulfill your needs?
  • More than 90% of the things that drain our energy in our job are things that other people do or don’t do.
  • Our needs are our strongest motivational drives. They are individual or situational and they change over time.

The big question, what does this all mean?

“Motivation Factor is based on modern brain science, but the connection to established theories is obvious, and Hertzberg’s two-factor theory of job satisfaction is definitely one of them…”

Motivation Factor is based on modern brain science, but the connection to established theories is obvious, and Hertzberg’s two-factor theory of job satisfaction is definitely one of them. Hertzberg was ahead of his time. He was talking about intrinsic motivation and purpose management 60 years ago, long before anyone else. Of course, the times have changed since 1959, but his fundamental research on motivation is eternal.

Motivation Factor® enables you to identify what to pursue and what to avoid to stay highly motivated.

Imagine if you knew exactly how to motivate yourself and/or your staff. Motivation Factor helps to verbalize your vision – and provides you with the tools to work structured and professionally with your own and/or your employees’ motivation factors.

Motivation and research

Recent brain research tells us that our motivation is rooted in our individual needs and talents. When it comes to personal change and the development processes, it is essential to focus on what drives you towards the goal, and it is equally important to know what to avoid in order to stay motivated. With this knowledge, you can maintain determination and focus, along with motivation and willingness to adapt. Learn more about Motivation Factor tools and programs here.

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