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How to be happy at work. Herzberg’s motivation theory.

October 24, 2011

The topic we are discussing these days in class deals with how to motivate people at work. We are talking about what makes people happy at work, and I think we are coming up with a lot of interesting ideas and I want to share my own opinion on this matter.
It is generally thought that money is one of the most motivating things at work, especially nowadays because there are a lot of unemployed people. But there is an American psychologist, called Herzberg, who introduced the motivation-hygiene theory. Herzberg , after interviewing many workers about their conditions at work, thought that there are certain factors at work that cause satisfaction and there are other factors that cause dissatisfaction, and he called motivators to those factors that give satisfaction and hygiene factors to those that cause dissatisfaction when we don’t have them, but that aren’t motivators if we have them because hygiene factors are necessary to work in proper conditions and to avoid dissatisfaction but by themselves don’t provide satisfaction.

For him, hygiene factors are a good salary, lighting and temperature conditions, security, etc. And motivator factors are those related to recognition at work, achievement , challenging atmosphere or promotion. If we don’t have a good salary or air conditioning at work we would be dissatisfied but if we have we don’t feel really happy and motivated because we think we need those factors to work.
In addition, other psychologists obtained similar conclusions, as Hawthorne experiment or Rosenthal experiment. At Hawthorne factory, the experts were studying if the workers would become more productive with better light conditions but they realized that the most productive people were the those involved in that experiment and regardless of the light conditions. So, the conclusion was that people become more motivated when they feel somebody cares about them, when somebody is asking about their opinion.
Finally, there is another experiment about how the expectations we have about a person or a worker can influence their behavior. This is the Pygmalion effect or Rosenthal effect that was an experiment with real students done in the United States in the 60’s. As you can see in this video with real students and real workers, too often we put a label on somebody’s forehead  and we don’t look at people, we prefer look at his label.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Noemí permalink
    October 24, 2011 11:30 pm

    I found your post very interesting! First of all I’d like to say that it’s true that when you’re at work, or for example attending to class, don’t realise about some factors that there are really necessary to be comfortable (hygiene factors) but if you dont have them it can be annoying to work or study. When I was going to class last year in winter I was a few weeks wearing gloves, coat and hat because the central heating was broken! you can imagine how concentrate we were on the teacher’s lesson!!!
    About the second part of the post, I think that If we know some details about a person, most of the time we make an idea about them before we know that person. One of my teachers of “formacion profesional” last year didn’t know that I was engineer till the last months of the course and when she got that information I felt that she was acting with me with another behaviour (was listening my opinions more than before, spending more time expaining me some topics, and things like that).
    We should try not to put a label, as you said at the end of the post, to people. I think that we should just try to do our best everytime with everyone it doesn’t matte about theis label.

  2. October 25, 2011 11:24 am

    I totally agree with you. About the behavoir of your teacher I think it’s a difficult situation because there are a lot of people unemployed and with a degree studying vocational education (FP) and it´s difficult to manage with this. I’m a vocational teacher and I think it’s challenging but difficult teach people with more qualifications than a secundary student or even than me, the teacher!

  3. franeoivlc permalink
    October 25, 2011 6:24 pm

    I’ve found an interesting video based on researches which say that the salary rewards doesn’t work for skilled and creative works…

  4. eugenia34 permalink
    October 26, 2011 11:06 pm

    I´ve goose pimples after watching the video about pigmeon experiment. I think is a terrible thing that judging people in advance can have so important repercussions. It´s incredible how we can affect others people´s lives by labelling them. It´s amazing and also unfair in same way.
    I´ll try not to have prejudice against anybody, just in case!

  5. October 28, 2011 6:44 pm

    I agree with you Eugenia, we should try not to judge people in advance although it’s a difficult thing, but for me the most terrifiying thing is that the experiement at school was with real people

  6. marisa permalink
    November 1, 2011 9:35 pm

    Thank you very much for such an interesting post Javier. I have read a lot about how when you encourage students, when you teach positively, the students learn more because they concentrate on what they can do, not on what they can’t.

    It must be a very awkard situation to be teaching to people who have such high qualifications.

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