Human Resource Performance Issues and Motivation Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Human Resource Performance Issues and Motivation: Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

BUS 610: Organizational Behavior


Human Resource Performance Issues and Motivation: Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

This paper will discuss a performance issue as a result of a motivational problem, how this issue becomes a performance problem for the organization, and the intervention or actions taken to make changes resulting in correction of the performance problem. Before discussing the performance issue one must have a better grasp on motivational theory, job satisfaction, and work performance. Basset-Johns and Lloyd stated that “Motivation is founded upon satisfaction born of a sense of achievement, recognition for achievement, responsibility and personal growth” (2005, p 934). Throughout this paper I will break down and further explain Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of motivation, The Home Depot as an organization and its motivational relationship with its employees, and how a better understanding of both of these can help in correcting performance problems and improving motivation.

Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Tietjen & Myers state that Herzberg “proposed that an employee’s motivation to work is best understood when the respective attitude of that employee is understood” (1998, para 1). Through questioning how an attitude was caused and its consequences in relation to trying to identify an individual’s attitude towards their job, and by conducting interviews utilizing open-ended questions; Helzberg developed his motivational theory (Tietjen & Myers, 1998).

Herzberg’s two-factor theory of motivation suggests that there are two factors each contributing to either dissatisfaction or satisfaction in the workplace and these factors were identified as motivators and hygiene factors (Baack, 2012, p 4.2). “Hygiene factors are characterised as extrinsic components of job design that contribute to employee dissatisfaction if they are not met” (Furnham, Eracleous, & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2009, p 766), or conditions encompassing the job. Some examples of hygiene factors are wages, number of hours scheduled or the scheduled shifts, relationships with supervisors and co-workers, and company policies. Motivators “are intrinsic to the job itself and include aspects such as achievement, development, responsibility, and recognition” (Furnham et al., 2009, p 766), or task-related factors.

New research in positive psychology is similar to that seen in Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory. Sachau stated Herzberg’s proposed “motivation-hygiene theory is best understood as a general framework for understanding the dual nature of satisfaction/dissatisfaction, happiness/unhappiness, intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, mastery/status, and psychological growth/psychological pain avoidance” (2007, p 389), a framework that is the dominant characteristic of positive psychology. The importance of motivating factors are expressed in that without these factors motivation does not exist; furthermore, the absence of a motivating factor does not signify dissatisfaction, but simply a lower level of satisfaction. Herzberg’s theory stressed that if a hygiene factor was missing that did not mean that satisfaction occurred, but simply that the dissatisfaction that factor would cause was diminished. There has been conflicting information regarding the importance of hygiene factors as a role in motivation; however, from personal experience and observation hygiene factors influence motivation and job satisfaction. For example, a hard-working employee suddenly begins to have fewer hours versus a low performing employee who is scheduled for a more hours; in effect, this can lead the higher performing employee to believe that a higher level of job performance and efficiency is irrelevant possibly resulting in reduced motivation, morale, effort, and reduced job satisfaction.

Motivation and Performance: The Home Depot

The Home Depot has multiple incentives or policies in place to aid in continued motivation of its employees, opportunities for professional and personal growth, and recognition for performance. Currently, there are two main avenues for employees to receive recognition at their store through either the Homer Award or Bravo Board. Employees can complete Bravo card on other associates highlighting thanks for assistance or great job performance, providing recognition and that their work is valued. There is no limit to the number of cards an associate can fill out and post, or that can be completed on an associate. Every month the manager removes the cards and reads through them, and the cards are then entered into a drawing that the Human Resource Manger randomly draws from, and the winner gets a Homer Award; additionally, the Homer Award can be given to an associate by a department head, their supervisor, or one of the managers. The Award showcases that the associate is an epitome of `Home Depot’s core values. According to Dobre, research has shown that “rewards lead to job satisfaction, which in turn influence directive and positively the performance of the employees” (2013, p 57). Employees can further validate job satisfaction through their hard work and recognition, even with something as simple as a thank you, job well done voiced by another associate or manager.

On an organizational standpoint The Home Depot offers an incentive called Success Sharing to each store within a district. Each store has its’ forecasted sales for the quarter and knowledge of the district’s forecasted sales as well. Weekly reports are provided for employees to review so that they may see where the store stands in terms of total sales, customer reviews, installs and others. The more a store exceeds their forecasted sales plan over 95% the more payout the employees received with rates ranging from 1.5% to 3% to the store; including, further calculations utilized to determine the amount that is given to each individual employee of that store based on their earnings. Employees are also offered the chance to participate in the employee stock program in which they purchase stock in the company providing a sense that they are not just as an employee but a stakeholder, an investor in their company as well.

Human resources and positive psychology “both are interested in enhancing skills, increasing interest, elevating satisfaction, encouraging ethical behavior, improving performance, and fostering creativity” (Sachau, 2007, p 378). Home Depot also offers tuition assistance for its employees that are taking classes towards a degree or certification; encouraging them to advance in their professional and personal development. There is also an assisted manager training program offered to employees once they have reached a certain level, opening up the opportunity for them to apply for open assistant manager positions within the company.

Performance Issues and Interventions

In her blog Gallant lists possible causes for loss of motivation and performance issues which can negatively affect an organization to include: not addressing performance problems, not rewarding or acknowledging performance, lack of equal treatment, inconsistency of performance goals or descriptions, lack of feedback, policies that are unnecessary and complicated, inadequate feedback, and encouraging unhealthy competitiveness (2013). There are a few different performance issues within my Home Depot store that I have observed. First, a fellow co-worker, whom I will call Jane, has expressed her unhappiness in her current position. Jane’s unhappiness comes from feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated for her work at the customer service desk. She has expressed this unhappiness to our management, and has requested a change of position. Currently there are no other positions available in which she wishes to work. In the meantime she does come to work but she does the minimum required and has no motivation to perform more than that due to her dissatisfaction, which has caused extra work for her co-workers. Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles in resolving this performance and motivation issue is that Jane herself is not sure of the department or skill set she wishes to work, only that she does not want to work at customer service or as a cashier. The resolution of this performance issue will be in the future when employee Jane is able to transfer to another department; however, until she knows her area of interest it could be difficult to find the right position that is in line with her interests and skills.

Another fellow employee whom I will call Brad worked in several departments upon transferring to our store. Brad went from working in flooring, to being a department head in garden to being the head in lumber. While as the lumber department head, a position he voluntarily interviewed forward, it became obvious he was not happy in his current position. Movement and motivation are two different things. “For an employee to become motivated, the energy or desire to move must come from within” (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005, p 933). Brad would do minimum work, leave tasks uncompleted, would work partial shifts or call out frequently. As one can imagine this caused discourse with the other lumber associates as they felt there was unequal treatment being given to their department head, they did not see anyone take action in addressing these performance issues, and felt as though they were constantly completing his duties as well as lacking in guidance or direction from their supervisor (Brad). This kind of performance issue can produce frustration, unhappiness, decreased productivity, resentment towards unfair treatment, and lack of trust. To correct this performance issue a manager should meet with the employee to discuss their observations, find the reason behind their lack of motivation, give them the opportunity to offer ideas on how to revamp their motivation, decide on what (if any) disciplinary action will be taken, and finally place a concrete plan with clear expectations in improving their motivation and completing their job duties. I, however, am not privy to what (if any) action or counseling that was conducted by management. Brad has since moved to the hardware department head position and appears happier, has expressed satisfaction in his new position and department, has increased productivity and sales it his new department. According to Brown & Huning (2010) job satisfaction is “the enjoyment that employees experience by performing their jobs” (p 2).

Herzberg suggested that motivation could be “recognition for achievement translated into direct feedback; responsibility into self-regulation, authority to communicate, exercise of control over resources and accountability; whilst advancement and growth translated into the central dynamic of new learning leading to new expertise” (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005, p 934). Currently I work at the special service desk, which is similar to a customer service desk; however, our duties also include cashiering, handling of online orders, working and creating special orders, installations, communication with vendors on products and services, assisting with credit service issues, deliveries, and will calls. As the service desk and returns are adjacent to each other, the returns associate is often called upon to cover our lunch breaks or for assistance when we have multiple customers needing assistance with service desk tasks. Some days we have the manning and forecasted sales available so the human resource manager is able to schedule a cashier at the service desk; in addition to, the service desk associate and returns cashiers. It can be overwhelming for cashiers to assist us in our duties. Many cashiers that work on our end of the store express a desire to know more about service desk functions, not only so that they can better assist us, but so that they can expand their own knowledge base and experience. Whenever possible I offer to show the cashiers different functions and processes such as: how to release an order to a customer, how to answer questions about deliveries, how to create will call orders and deliveries, how to transfer calls, and how to contact credit services. Additionally, I also encourage garden associates to learn how to create delivery and will call orders as all riding lawn mower sells must be sold through the this system to register their warranty. This not only helps to increase motivation through growth of their skills, but creates the opportunity for co-workers to better assist the service desk when and if needed.

This paper has discussed performance issues as a result of a motivational problem, how this issue became a performance problem for the organization, and the intervention or actions taken to make changes resulting in correction of the performance problem. As this paper comes to an end you should have a better grasp on Herzberg’s motivational theory, job satisfaction, and work performance. Throughout this paper Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory of motivation was broken down and further explained, The Home Depot as an organization and its motivational relationship with its employees was discussed; as was, how a better understanding of both of these can help in correcting performance problems and improving motivation.


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