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The Motivator/Hygiene Theory: Understanding Employee Motivation and Its Implications for Gen Z

Employee motivation plays a crucial role in the success of any organization, and understanding what motivates employees, especially those belonging to Gen Z, is essential. In previous articles, we explored the statistical preferences of Gen Z regarding work motivation. Now, let’s take another perspective and understand the most prevalent theories about work motivation. Frederick Herzberg’s motivator/hygiene theory, also known as the two-factor theory, provides valuable insights into this area.

The Genesis of the Theory

Herzberg conducted research in the mid-1950s, surveying 200 engineers and accountants to identify their motivators. Combining his findings with those of other researchers, Herzberg developed a motivation model based on the assumption that factors leading to job satisfaction and motivation are distinct from those causing job dissatisfaction.

Herzberg conducted research in the mid-1950s, surveying 200 engineers and accountants to identify their motivators.

The Two-Factor Theory

According to the two-factor theory, factors that contribute to job satisfaction (motivators or intrinsic rewards) differ from those causing job dissatisfaction (hygiene factors or extrinsic rewards). Motivators encompass elements such as achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, and growth or advancement. On the other hand, hygiene factors, which are external to the job, include company policy and administration, supervision, interpersonal relationships, working conditions, salary, status, and security.

Implications for Working with Gen Z

Applying Herzberg’s theory to the context of Gen Z employees, it becomes evident that focusing solely on hygiene factors is unlikely to guarantee job satisfaction. While aspects like working conditions and salary are important, Gen Z individuals also seek motivators that fulfill their desire for personal growth, recognition, and achievement. To effectively engage and motivate Gen Z employees, organizations should redefine job roles to provide opportunities for recognition, responsibility, and advancement. Emphasizing a sense of purpose, offering ongoing learning and development, and creating a supportive work environment can help organizations tap into the intrinsic motivators of Gen Z individuals.

In conclusion, Herzberg’s motivator/hygiene theory offers valuable insights into understanding what motivates employees, including Gen Z workers. By recognizing the unique motivators of this generation and addressing their needs for personal growth and achievement, organizations can foster higher job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity among Gen Z employees, leading to a thriving and successful workplace.