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Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory for Satisfied and Motivated Project Teams

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory for Satisfied and Motivated Project Teams

How can you keep your project team motivated?

What makes your team members happy enough to want to continue working with you?

What makes them work harder?

These are crucial questions that every project manager should ask themselves. A motivated team is a productive team, and an effective team is a successful one.

So how do you find the answers to these questions? The Herzberg two-factor theory is a good place to start. This theory advances two factors that motivate employees: job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction.

In this article, we’ll explain the two-factor theory and how you can apply it to your project management teams

What Is the Herzberg Two-factor Theory?

Herzberg’s two-factor theory is a psychological theory focusing on motivation in the workplace. The theory groups factors that affect an individual’s satisfaction and motivation level at work into two categories:

  • Job satisfaction (also known as the hygiene factors)
  • Job dissatisfaction (also known as the motivational factors)


Frederick Irving Herzberg introduced the Herzberg theory in 1968. Herzberg was trying to get to the root of employee satisfaction and motivation in the workplace.

In his study, Dr. Herzberg asked people to describe situations where they felt really good and bad about their jobs. The answers revealed that what made people feel good wasn’t always the opposite of what made them feel bad. The psychologist concluded that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction are not opposites.

Herzberg believed that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction impacted employees’ performance differently.

According to the two-factor theory, individuals could be satisfied with their roles but not necessarily motivated enough to work towards their goals. Therefore, eliminating the causes of dissatisfaction amongst your team members doesn’t always guarantee they will become motivated to be productive. Nor will increasing the factors of job satisfaction eliminate job dissatisfaction.

To be able to use Herzberg’s model and keep your teams motivated and satisfied, it’s essential that you understand the difference between job satisfaction (hygiene) and job dissatisfaction (motivational) factors and how they affect employees.

Let’s dig deeper into these two factors.

Hygiene Factors in Herzberg’s Model

Hygiene factors are the components of a job that satisfy physiological and safety needs such as security, pay, fairness, and working conditions. When you can fulfill these needs, teams feel comfortable and satisfied with their roles. Conversely, teams tend to be less dedicated to achieving goals when hygiene factors are missing.

Hygiene factors include:

  • Company policies: Company policies need to be fair and clear to every employee. They must also correspond to those of competitors.
  • Supervision: Employees need to be managed well through fair and appropriate supervision. As the project manager, it’s essential that you give your teams as much autonomy as is reasonable.
  • Relationships: Managers shouldn’t tolerate bullying or cliques in the workplace. Instead, they should encourage a healthy, amiable, and appropriate relationship between peers, superiors, and subordinates.
  • Work conditions: Ensure that equipment and the working environment are safe, fit for use, and hygienic. Make it a priority to uphold the welfare and safety of your employees.
  • Salary and benefits: Offer your employees a competitive wage and ensure that your pay structure is fair and reasonable.
  • Status: Strive to give your employees meaningful work that gives them a sense of status.
  • Job security: Employees should feel secure in their position and not under the constant threat of being laid off. Let your employees know they are valued.

Motivation Factors in Herzberg’s Model

Motivational factors are the essential job elements that give people a greater sense of purpose and significance in their current roles. When organizations don’t meet these needs, employees may become dissatisfied with their jobs and seek more challenging roles. The presence of motivators enhances employee productivity.

Motivation factors as per Herzberg’s two-factor theory include:

  • Achievement: Employees want to feel a sense of accomplishment after completing a project or task. Motivation increases significantly when someone feels proud for having accomplished something difficult but worthwhile.
  • Recognition for accomplishments: People feel motivated when superiors and peers acknowledge them for any effort or contribution that goes above and beyond their job duties. Recognition can come in the form of a raise, promotion, or an important assignment.
  • Advancement: Workers are more productive in an organization where promotion opportunities exist.
  • Creativity: Leave room for team members to think outside the box and come up with solutions and new ideas on their own.
  • Variety: Allow room for employees to change work assignments, duties, or projects.
  • Independence: Give people the autonomy to make their own decisions instead of micromanaging them.
  • Exciting work: Offer team members tasks that are stimulating, challenging, and related to their interests.
  • Responsibility: Grant people the opportunity to take on more significant project roles or duties. Allow them to hold themselves accountable.
  • Accomplishment: This is the ability to accomplish tasks within the set deadline.
  • Personal growth: The job should enable employees to learn new skills on the job or through certifications.
  • Interpersonal relationships: Employees should be able to interact with each other and clients positively.

What The Two-Factor Theory Means for Business and Projects

Every project manager aims to deliver successful projects on time and within budget. Having a supportive and fully motivated team can help you turn this desire into a reality, repeatedly. On the other hand, an unmotivated team is likely to fail. According to a Salesforce report, over 86% of executives blame ineffective teamwork for project failure.

Motivated employees are, therefore, an essential aspect of project management. When you have a motivated team, you can complete projects on time, keep team members satisfied with their roles, and build a healthy work environment.

Implementing Herzberg’s two-factor theory in your organization will help you understand what motivates individual employees. With this knowledge, you can craft a holistic employee motivation plan.

When you use Herzberg’s two-factor theory in project management, you’re able to:

  • Identify the motivators and hygiene factors missing in your organization.
  • Discover the motivators and hygiene factors already utilized in the company and leverage them more.
  • Support employee empowerment by encouraging them to achieve project goals independently.
  • Identify and improve potential project and company risk factors, thereby minimizing project disruptions.
  • Address concerns of workers who may be having difficulty achieving job satisfaction.
  • Put in place a framework for measuring employee job satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and project success.

Examples of the Herzberg Motivation Theory

To illustrate how Herzberg’s model works in project management, let’s look at a few examples:

Example 1: The hostile work environment

You’ve noted that your team has been unmotivated lately, so you decided to promote those deserving of a promotion. However, you realize that this doesn’t change things. The promoted employees are still unsatisfied. On digging deeper, you find out that the employees are unhappy with the work environment, which they describe as hostile.

Example 2: A messy workflow

Lately, the people in your project haven’t been pulling their weight. They no longer follow task workflows, and tasks are way beyond the deadline. It would be best if you found out what is causing the dissatisfaction and what can motivate them to work harder. They probably don’t enjoy the project they’re working on, or maybe you haven’t been acknowledging them for an excellent job done in the past. Or perhaps the working conditions are not conducive for them to work on their tasks.

How to Facilitate Workplace Satisfaction Using Mission Control

Herzberg’s Motivation theory is an effective way to keep project teams motivated and engaged. When you know the factors that inspire your employees, you can implement them and keep your team focused on the project goals.

Having a reliable project management tool like Mission Control can make it easier to manage all aspects of your project in one place, including human resources. The tool allows you to assign tasks and monitor progress.

Additionally, Mission Control has a Skill Development Planning feature. It will help you track the development planning of your individual roles and allows you to carry out an assessment of the individual person, taking into account all the skills that they have. It keeps a track of their enjoyment and proficiency of their tasks and skills as well as allowing their piers to perform an assessment of those people as well.

Request a demo to see how Mission Control can help you manage your resources better and keep your teams motivated and productive.



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