Motivation is: the art of engaging with members of your team in such a way that they give their very best performance.

Therefore, the answer to the question of ‘What do people really want from their jobs?” is the root of motivating your workforce.

Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg addresses this in his article “One more time: How do you motivate employees.”   His conclusions form the basis of sound, practical, motivational theory.  To be sure,  just about anyone can implement this theory.  As long as they are paying attention.

In fact, his research showed that certain characteristics of a job are constantly associated with job satisfaction while different factors are related to job dissatisfaction.  These are:


Factors for Satisfaction

Factors for Dissatisfaction



The work itself




Company policies


Relationship with supervisor and peers

Work conditions




The conclusion he drew is that the opposite of satisfaction is not dissatisfaction.  Rather:

  • The opposite of Satisfaction is No Satisfaction, and
  • The opposite of Dissatisfaction is No Dissatisfaction

Simply removing factors for dissatisfaction will not provide motivation.  Nor will adding factors for satisfaction lead to remediating job dissatisfaction.  Recognizing someone for doing a great job won’t lead to them being satisfied if the environment is difficult to work in.  Conversely, if the work environment is healthy, where none of the factors for dissatisfaction exist, but none of the factors for satisfaction exist either, an employee won’t be satisfied.  That’s just neutral.

Herzberg contends that removing factors for dissatisfaction won’t in and of itself increase performance.  Because the factors for satisfaction and dissatisfaction are separate.

Thus, to motivate your workforce must be done in two stages. First, remove any dissatisfaction they are experiencing.   Second, make sure as many factors for satisfaction exist as possible.


Step 1:  Eliminate Job Dissatisfaction

  • Change company policies which get in the way of people doing their jobs.
  • Ensure that supervisors and managers have the skills and attitudes conducive to getting productive, results-oriented behaviors from the people who report to them.
  • Create a climate based on the values of achieving common goals and best serving the customer.
  • Be sure that wages are competitive.
  • Creatively find ways to help people in all roles see meaning in their work.
  • Ensure job security

These actions will help eliminate job dissatisfaction.  However, dissatisfaction doesn’t mean that a person is satisfied.  In addition,  you have to make sure the factors for satisfaction exist as well.


Step 2: Create Conditions For Job Satisfaction

  • Offer training and development to provide opportunities for professional growth.
  • Clearly show people what their path to advancement in the organization is.
  • Show people that they have responsibilities and not just a job description.  That their work serves as a critical part of the organizational whole.
  • Help people understand that their work has meaning beyond the work.  Are they ”just  laying bricks” or “building a temple to God?” Those thought processes play out very differently.
  • Recognize people for a job well done. (Note that this costs nothing!)
  • Finally, provide opportunities for people to achieve organizational goals both short-term and long-term.

Look at motivation through Herzberg’s lens of satisfaction and dissatisfaction factors.  I think you will agree that it is not complex theory. Rather, common sense practical action steps every employer can have their eyes on.

What will you do with this?