Herzberg's Theory of Motivators and Hygiene Factors - Usage in Project Management

Frederick Herzberg was one of the first researchers to delve into the nuances of motivation, behavior, and their relation to performance. According to his two-factor theory, there were both motivators and hygiene factors involved in motivation. 

Motivators are intrinsic to our jobs and include achievement, recognition, responsibility, advancement, influence, personal growth, and the work itself. Hygiene factors on the other hand are extrinsic to our jobs such as company policy, supervision, working conditions, and salary.

Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory is considered as a project management model and is generally used in the following performance domains.

What is Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory?

In 1959, Frederick Herzberg first published the Two Factor Theory in his book The Motivation to Work. The Two Factor Theory is based on work done by the US Air Force, which found that two factors determine how happy employees are at work. 

The two-factor theory, also known as Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, argues that there are separate sets of factors that either cause job satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the workplace. 

The hygiene factors were things like work conditions, company policies, salary, and benefits. Herzberg found that these were all factors that if satisfied made workers want to stay longer for the company without dissatisfaction. But it also concluded that when any one of these factors wasn't met (for example, low pay) then the worker was dissatisfied and would look elsewhere for employment. 

Along with the first factor, Herzberg also introduced the next one as motivators, in other words, satisfiers. 

While hygiene factors are related to “the need to avoid unpleasantness,” motivation factors more directly lead to job satisfaction because of “the need of the individual for self-growth and self-actualization.” It was through this understanding that Herzberg identified the motivating factors of achievement, recognition, responsibility, and advancement opportunities which are sometimes referred to as feedback loops. He argued that people will be motivated by the desire to achieve goals, get credit for their achievements, make progress towards a promotion or receive praise, and so forth. 


 Herzberg found that recognition, responsibility, promotion, status, increased self-esteem, a sense of doing something important, an opportunity to do something better than was previously possible all make people feel fulfilled. They motivate them to work harder and produce more. Conversely, it’s the feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s job or with oneself that prevent motivation. 

Hygiene Factors

Hygiene factors (e.g. status, job security, salary, fringe benefits, work conditions, good pay, paid insurance, vacations) that do not give positive satisfaction or lead to higher motivation, though dissatisfaction results from their absence. 

See also: 

Maslow's Theory of Needs

Team Principle

Team Composition and Structure

Team Charter

Develop Team Process