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Beyond Maslow and Herzberg

Beyond Maslow and Herzberg

Motivation Minute Blog

On the heels of Pavlov and B.F. Skinner came the research of Maslow and Herzberg.  Maslow, a behavioral scientist, created his "Heirarchy of Needs" which ranked the various human needs that we yearn to satisfy.  They are, in order: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self actualization.  Each need must be satisfied before pursuing the next (i.e. there can be no self actualization without the satisfaction of the four needs antecedent to it).  Therefore, Maslow's theory was popularly illustrated by a pyramid.


Frederick Herzberg, in 1959, created his "Two Factor Theory."  Unlike Maslow, Herzberg concluded that there are motivators (satisfiers) and hygiene factors (dissatisfiers), but they are distinct from each other.

Herzberg Two Factor Theory

Absence or substandard hygiene factors (company policy, supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions, and salary) create dissatisfaction, but in and of themselves do not motivate or create satisfaction.  Positive changes in hygiene factors could produce short term results in attitude and performance, but performance would quickly fall back to its previous level.  Herzberg  determined that motivators were elements that determined a person's job satisfaction.  Five main factors in particular were determined in study after study - achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and advancement.  These satisfiers were associated with long-term positive effects in job performance. 

Are they still relevant?

Maslow and Herzberg purported their theories over 50 years ago.  Do these theories still hold water today?  Surprisingly, they do for the most part, yet certain occupations (teaching for example) do not match the behavior of those found in general business. Additionally, current studies indicate that job satisfaction and engagement/productivity are not necessarily one in the same.  Key engagement indicators in current studies include organizational communication (a hygiene factor), organizational culture, and manager interaction and support.  Income was still surprisingly an insignificant factor in satisfaction, yet Herzberg's five main motivators - achievement, recognition, quality work, responsibility or task ownership, and possibility of advancement - are still linked with employee loyalty and longevity.

Next week, a 21st Century look into engagement and the human mind..

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