Herzberg’s Theory & What It Means for Job Seekers

Herzberg's Theory & What It Means to Job Seekers
I saw an article that posed the question “Does More Compensation Improve Productivity?” After searching “higher pay better performance” and getting about 388 million results, it would seem that folks believe that higher pay is the solution to a company’s performance woes.

The thing that might be getting lost here is the fact that psychologist Frederick Herzberg already studied this 50-60 years ago. His findings led to the development of his Motivation-Hygiene (or Two-Factor) Theory.

In a nutshell, there are two types of opportunities that influence folks: those that tend to satisfy (or motivate) them and those that dissatisfy them. Satisfiers may include:

  • Having responsibility
  • Recognition for work done well
  • Succeeding in reaching goals
  • Promotions (though not everyone wants this)
  • Personal and professional growth

Aspects of work that dissatisfy employees are:

  • Job security
  • Working conditions
  • Benefits
  • Status
  • Salary

It goes without saying that if a company has low marks among many of the dissatifiers, it will be difficult to retain a quality workforce because of these conditions. After all, a company that can’t provide stable employment or pays significantly below the industry standard gives employees less opportunity to be able to pay for basic needs for themselves and their families.

However, eliminating the poor conditions will not lead to a high-performing team. Instead, it will merely bring things to an acceptable and expected level in the work environment.

Giving raises or higher-than-expected bonuses to employees can stimulate a short-term bump in satisfaction with the company, but all too quickly, the new pay scale or bonus structure becomes the norm and the feel in the company goes back down. If, say, a business reached a bit far with the previous year’s raises and opts to keep salaries flat for the current year, folks will be disgruntled because of it.

Why does this matter to job seekers?

It matters because this information can be used to evaluate a company.

Is a prospective employer putting a lot of emphasis on the financial and benefits package? It could be a way of compensating for a horrible culture that simply sticks employees into jobs and expects them to do as they are told.

Or what if your interviewers hem and haw when you ask about career paths? Perhaps they have a history of keeping people in the same jobs without offering advancement because the managers don’t like to lose talent.

So, if a company is not investing in the types of opportunities that will lead to long-term employee satisfaction, do you really want to work there?

Image courtesy of Post Memes

Melissa Cooley of The Job Quest, LLC unearths clients’ career examples to showcase the talents and results that make them must-hire candidates. Click here for more information on ways to partner with Melissa for your career success!

Melissa is a contributor to the book Nourish Your Career, has been quoted on Monster.com, The Daily Muse, Dice.com, and Quintessential Careers, has interviewed numerous times for The Voice of Job Seekers podcast, and has written guest posts for multiple job seeker blogs.

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