Industrial Psychology And Acknowledgement

Anthony Stirling believed that the financial rewards for his job as an accountant were as good as they could be. What he struggled to comprehend was the sense of worthlessness he experienced upon reporting to work each Monday morning. The office was extremely efficient, but people rarely interacted, and his boss was a distant figure who barely knew his name.

The reason individuals like Anthony require recognition in addition to money to motivate them in their daily work is not a mystery.
Herzberg, Frederick

In 1955, Industrial Psychologist Frederick Herzberg published his treatise on human relations at work, elucidating the role of influences on motivation at work.

The outcomes defied logic. He compiled two diametrically opposed lists: one detailing what satisfied people at work and another detailing what dissatisfied them.

Factors Affecting Hygiene

business policy

• corporate policies and procedures

• rapport avec le superviseur

• the work environment

• interpersonal relationships with coworkers

• compensation

• standing

• safety


• accomplishment

• personal development

• career prospects

• occupation satisfaction

• acknowledgment

The list of characteristics that dissatisfy people at work cannot be expected to provide high levels of motivation on their own if they are provided in excessive quantities. For instance, if your chair is comfortable and appropriate for your organisational status, you are unlikely to experience an increase in motivation if your boss offers you the same model with an additional cup holder.

The factors that contributed to satisfaction included personal growth and recognition. These, it appears, could be used to motivate only after the dissatisfaction list was corrected. Herzberg does not believe that organisations with a long list of “dissatisfiers” lack motivation; rather, he emphasises what we should already know: that attempts to motivate may be futile unless dissatisfaction is addressed first.

Herzberg compared the average worker to a recuperating patient. He arrived at the conclusion that the “dissatisfiers” were actually Hygiene Factors. These are necessary for the “patient’s” satisfactory recovery but do not guarantee complete health. The list of “satisfiers” is, in fact, a list of Motivators; those factors that truly motivate the “patient” to pursue recovery and full functioning.

This powerful analogy demonstrates that if the Hygiene factors are deficient in any way, regardless of how much effort is expended on the Motivators, the patient may die.

The conclusion to be drawn from Fred Herzberg’s work is that recognition plays a significant role in workplace motivation. However, granting recognition in a vacuum without addressing the Hygiene Factors effectively may yield few benefits for the effort expended.

Other Industrial Psychologists such as Abraham Maslow and Douglas McGregor corroborate Herzberg’s findings, and despite the fact that these simple truths have been documented for the better part of 50 years, some companies, such as Anthony’s employer, either forgot or never bothered to implement an effective recognition system.

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