Two-Factor Theory of Motivation and De-Motivators of Employees

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 2
Words: 568
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of Motivation summarizes factors that bring job satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Motivating factors are found within a job and include recognition, the work itself, responsibility, achievement, and advancement. When present, these factors increase employee job satisfaction and cause them to work harder. On the other hand, hygiene factors are those that cause job dissatisfaction. They include work relationships, security, supervision, remuneration, work conditions, and company policies (Kian & Yusoff, 2015). While motivators are intrinsic, hygiene factors surround the job but are not found in the job itself. Herzberg theorized that the presence of hygiene factors does not necessarily make employees work harder, but their absence demotivates them from hard work.

Extrinsic factors can serve as de-motivators of employees in an organization. One example of such a factor is salary or remuneration. When the pay structure within a company is not deemed to be fair, employees lose motivation to work hard. This is also the case when the compensation is not commensurate to work done or competitive relative to other firms in the industry (Kian & Yusoff, 2015). Another extrinsic factor is job security, and it can be a de-motivator where employees do not feel that their jobs are secure. If they face the constant threat of being furloughed, they will be demotivated from exerting effort at their workplaces. Similarly, the relationship between an employee and their colleagues and supervisors impacts their motivation level. Workplaces where bullying is not addressed can disincentivize from working hard. Other external factors such as work conditions, company policies, and supervision can also be reasons why employees slacken at work. These examples demonstrate that extrinsic factors can be de-motivators.

Aside from Herzberg, Hofstede also wrote extensively on why factors such as reward and bonus can be de-motivators. According to Hofstede, the needs of an individual do not always follow Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow theorized that human beings have five classes of needs which are physiological needs, safety needs, love, and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs (Osemeke & Adegboyega, 2017). Hofstede argued that cultural differences affect the priority that a person gives a certain need. While Maslow’s hierarchy is relevant to Western communities, it may not be applicable to Eastern ones in that order. For instance, employees in Eastern Europe expect rewards to be reflective of their performance and proportionate to their personal needs. A high reward for little work done may not be appreciated as it would be among American workers. Instead, they would think that the high compensation is unfair to others and be demotivated to work in such a workplace (Hofstede, 1980). Hofstede’s theory posits that external factors such as salary, reward, bonus, and perks can be de-motivators in certain communities depending on their beliefs.

Extrinsic factors in Herzberg’s two-factor theory can be de-motivators for employees. In situations where hygiene factors are high but motivators low, employees will have few complaints but will still not be motivated to work hard. Conversely, in organizations where extrinsic factors are low, employees will have too many grievances to perform their job well. In other cases, external factors such as reward and bonus may reduce intrinsic motivation. For instance, when an employee’s salary is too high, it might reduce motivation to work hard for a sense of fulfillment. Therefore, employers should find the best way to motivate their workers. An understanding of the various motivation theories helps in achieving this.


Hofstede, G. (1980). Motivation, leadership, and organization: do American theories apply abroad?. Organizational dynamics, 9(1), 42-63. Web.

Kian, T. S., & Yusoff, W. F. W. (2015). Intrinsic-extrinsic motivation revisited: Exploring their definitions. International Journal of Management Sciences, 6(3), 136-140.

Osemeke, M., & Adegboyega, S. (2017). Critical review and comparison between Maslow, Herzberg and McClellands theory of needs. Funai Journal of Accounting, Business and Finance, 1(1), 161-173.