Hygiene Factors: Definition & Explanation

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  • 0:00 What Is a Hygiene Factor?
  • 0:57 Key Concepts of…
  • 2:44 Application to Management
  • 4:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Hygiene factors are part of Frederick Herzberg's theory of motivation. In this lesson, you'll learn what hygiene factors are and the key concepts behind them. A short quiz follows the lesson.

What Is a Hygiene Factor?

Hygiene factors are the factors that characterize the context or environment of a person's work. They can be a cause of job dissatisfaction unless appropriately applied by an organization. Some simple examples of hygiene factors include organizational policies and procedures, supervision, relationships with co-workers and supervisors, physical work environment, job security, and compensation. It is part of Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory.

Frederick Herzberg studied workplaces to find out what caused them to be satisfied or dissatisfied with their employment. He was considered a member of the human-relations school of thought, which proposes that relationships between individuals are the most important component of organizational theory. The proponents of this school of thought focused much attention on employee motivation.

Key Concepts of Motivation-Hygiene Theory

You must have a general understanding of motivation-hygiene theory in order to understand how hygiene factors work. The theory consists of two factors:

  1. Hygiene factors - (also called dissatisfiers) can create job dissatisfaction
  2. Motivators - can create job satisfaction

Examples of hygiene factors are:

  • pay
  • quality of supervision
  • company rules
  • physical working conditions
  • co-worker relationships
  • job security

Examples of motivators are:

  • chances at promotion
  • personal growth
  • acknowledgement
  • responsibility
  • achievement

Job satisfaction is considered a byproduct of achievement, recognition, challenging work, responsibility, and advancement. The theory holds that long-term job satisfaction cannot be based on hygiene factors because satisfaction with your job is based upon the intrinsic nature of the work, not outside or environmental factors such as salary or company policies. In other words, if you really love what you do and feel that your work is recognized and appreciated, you'll be satisfied whether or not you like your co-workers or like your office.

It's import to understand that hygiene factors are not the opposite of motivators. Herzberg argues that the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction but rather no satisfaction. No satisfaction just means you are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied; it's just the absence of dissatisfaction. In other words, the opposite of dissatisfaction is just the absence of dissatisfaction - it does not mean you are satisfied. This distinction has important implications on how you manage and motivate people.

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