Satisfaction and dissatisfactions: Two sides, two coins

“The things that make people satisfied and motivated on the job are different in kind from the things that make them dissatisfied.” – Frederick Herzberg

Contrary to logic and common ideology, what’s making your employees dissatisfied at work might not be remedied by what’s making them stay…

For far too long, employers have thought that the pendulum of satisfaction vs. dissatisfaction in the workplace is placed on a singular scale. Employers across the globe who believe that more pay, job security and work-life balance are some of the key targets to focus on when trying to make employees happy are missing the mark on what really matters. The real answer might just surprise you.

An introduction to “The Two Factor Theory.” In 1959, Psychologist Frederick Herzberg developed the two-factor theory which is more commonly referred to as Herzberg’s motivation-hygiene theory. Herzberg’s research lead him to postulate that there are certain aspects of work and work culture that contribute to job satisfaction and other separate factors that contribute to job dissatisfaction.  Essentially, Herzberg concluded that these two categories – the things that make people enjoy work and the things that make people not enjoy work- work independent of one another. Factors that increased happiness were labeled “Motivator Factors” while factors that merely kept dissatisfaction at bay were labeled “Hygiene Factors.” Even though the research was conducted over forty years ago, it’s implications still resonate to this day and HR and executive leadership must grasp this critical concept in order to ensure employee happiness and decrease attrition rates.

Motivator Factor and Hygiene Factor explained.  In order to understand Herzberg’s, one must first grasp the idea of motivation and hygiene. If you can imagine, motivator factors can be described as factors that make work more exciting, enriching and fulfilling whereas hygiene factors simply make the job tolerable. If work were analogous to a car on the showroom floor, motivator factors are what make you really attracted to the vehicle while hygiene factors are those things that should “come standard.”

Motivator factors include: achievement, recognition, the job itself, responsibility, promotion and growth.

Hygiene factors include: pay and benefits (compensation), company policy and administration, relationship with co-workers, supervision, status, job security, working conditions and personal life.

Two sides, two coins. What Herzberg really wants us to understand is that you cannot simply inspire job satisfaction by addressing things that are considered “Hygiene.” His research leads us to understand that we cannot think of satisfaction as the antithesis of dissatisfaction but rather view the two as separate, mutually exclusive entities. The presence of satisfaction as opposed to the absence of satisfaction and the presence of dissatisfaction as opposed to the absence of dissatisfaction would be a better way of understanding this concept.

Key Findings. Herzberg proposes the following findings in light of this concept:

  1. People are made dissatisfied by a bad environment, but they are seldom made satisfied by a good environment.
  2. The prevention of dissatisfaction is just as important as encouragement of motivator satisfaction.
  3. Hygiene factors operate independently of motivation factors. An individual can be highly motivated in his work and be dissatisfied with his work environment.
  4. All hygiene factors are equally important, although their frequency of occurrence differs considerably.
  5. Hygiene improvements have short-term effects. Any improvements result in a short-term removal of, or prevention of, dissatisfaction.
  6. Hygiene needs are cyclical in nature and come back to a starting point. This leads to the “What have you done for me lately?” syndrome.
  7. Hygiene needs have an escalating zero point and no final answer
Why does this research matter? Simply stated, your HR and business strategy must account for these findings if you wish to retain top talent, motivate and encourage workers and to create an agreeable workplace culture. Management cannot expect that employees will be truly happy by providing raises while refraining from recognition and growth. Similarly, if leadership is less than agreeable and relationships with co-workers are tense then an increase in job responsibility will not make the employee forget his or her dissatisfaction. In fact, it just might make things worse.
If you want truly happy employees that lack dissatisfaction, Management and HR leadership must work together to distinguish the current climate of the organization. Once the climate is established, there must be a cohesive attempt to remedy hygiene deficiencies and a push to encourage motivator factors.


When to hire an HR consultant, and when not to

When to hire a consultant:

“Why a business needs an outside consultant is pretty basic, says Mike Meikle, CEO of the Hawthorne Group, a managment and technology consulting firm.

‘A consultant can be thought of as a tool that can implement a solution or solutions that are outside the real expertise for an in-house staff,” Meikle explains. “They can leave the client in a better place and more profitable condition.'”

Source: Consultants Thriving as Businesses Struggle to Survive | (September 30, 2011)

When not to hire a consultant:

While there are plenty of obvious reasons to hire an outside consultant, there are also obvious reasons not to, says Marv Doniger, of Doniger and Associates consulting firm.

“Firms that are not willing to accept an outsider’s point of view and make changes should not hire a consultant,” says Doniger. “And staffing a company’s long-term needs should be done by hiring additional help and not through the perpetual use of a consultant.”

Source: Consultants Thriving as Businesses Struggle to Survive | (September 30, 2011)

What Should Every Manager Know (or Get to Know) About Employee Social Media Use?

According to recent research, it is safe to predict that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, three out of every four employees in your office will have accessed social media while on the clock.

Is social media becoming the Wild, Wild West of employee non-productivity? Should companies care whether or not employees are on social networks? Should social media be discouraged or embraced? What’s a manager to do?!

Before you hit the Google search bar to search for social media tips for managers,  you should grab a cup of coffee and read my interview below. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Aliah Wright, the author of a recently released book published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) entitled “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” She shared a few key points that will help you understand the in’s and out’s of what is happening in social media and  what your company should be doing to stay on top of this new form of communication.

Here’s what she had to say to help us all catch up:

Q1. Please tell us a bit about your book and who the audience is.

A Necessary Evil” is for anyone who manages people who connect to the Internet from the palms of their hands. The book encourages employers to embrace social networking and its usage at work. Statistics show that 90 percent of adults use social media. According to a recent Facebook IDC study, 84 percent respondents’ time is spent on the phone communicating via text, e-mail, and social media versus only 16 percent on phone calls.” That’s right. More people are typing than talking. What’s more the enterprise social networking market is growing exponentially with IDC projecting that revenue from such software to grow from $0.8 billion in 2011 to $4.5 billion in 2016. This is the way we communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, gain insight, as well as further our personal brands and careers. It’s imperative that companies allow their employees to use this valuable resource.


Q2. What advice would you give to a manager who is new to understanding social media but wants to put guidelines in place for his or her team on how to use it in the workplace?

Familiarize yourself with the social media networks your employees are using. Is it Facebook? Instagram? Viddy? Vine? Pinterest? Twitter? GetGlue? LinkedIn? Google+? Yammer? If you don’t know ask them. Lurk first. Join, sit back, read, watch, and learn. Follow the people you admire, mimic their good behaviors, and then join the conversation. You have to engage first so you know what the culture is like. In terms of policy, employers need to be mindful of regulations. Employees are legally allowed to discuss their jobs on social media. Help them build their brands (while enhancing your firm) through their very own blogs and contributions to Twitter chats, LinkedIn, and other online forums. A good place to start with social media policy is to look at Wal-Mart’s policy. It’s been blessed by the National Labor Relations Board. SHRM members can find it on our website, but you can also Google it.


Q3. Do you have any interesting case study stories to tell about how a small business has used social media for their benefit?

Yes. Industrial Mold & Machine in Twinsburg, Ohio, has just 34 employees. Each employee was given an iPad so they could collaborate with one another from their workstations instead of using computer kiosks stationed around the plant. By deploying the social networking tool Socialtext from their iPads, workers are able to save time by reporting directly from their machines instead of the kiosks. Also, companies that cannot afford job boards are increasingly turning to social networking sites to find talent.


Q4. What are employees allowed to say about their employer on social media and what should companies do to monitor this activity?

The National Labor Relations Act allows all workers to communicate with each other about issues relating to their employment as long as that communication falls within the realm of protected concerted activity. And that is extended to conversations on social media. Protected concerted activity is when two or more employees discuss the conditions and terms of their employment in a way that’s designed to bring about change. Companies should, however, have policies outlining that employees are not to disclose proprietary information or trade secrets. There are dozens and dozens of social media monitoring tools that allow employers to monitor or eavesdrop on social media conversations. (Radian6 and Sprout Social come to mind—but I’m not endorsing those just listing them as examples). Not only do these tools allow employers to monitor employees, they’re excellent for engaging customers, future talent, and to monitor their brands. Monitoring these conversations helps companies turn those discussions into demonstrable action items (or nip bad publicity in the bud).


Q5. What impact do you see social media having on small businesses in the next year? What about the next five years?


Can you imagine us having a conversation about letting people use the Internet at work? But that very conversation occurred when the Net was new. People police themselves on these tools—just as they do with the phones on their desks. Those who abuse the tools should be reprimanded—another reason why you need rules. I believe within the next five years, we won’t be having conversations about the need to let people access social media at work. It will be something employers allow automatically because the value will finally be discernible.


Consider these interesting statics from my book:

•           53% of businesses that don’t embrace social media will ultimately fail

•           76% of firms that embrace social media will grow faster than those that don’t

•           86% of people who use social media once a week say they were recently promoted; and

•           71% of senior managers say firms that embrace social media at work will find it easier to attract and keep the best talent.


Social crowdsourcing—tapping the collective knowledge of peers and others on social networking sites—make us work smarter and faster because we’re turning to our peers and other experts to help us in our jobs. That alone will put companies that embrace it head and shoulders above those that don’t.

About Aliah D. Wright:


For more than 15 years, Aliah has worked as an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, artist, manager, web designer, and web content manager. She is also the author of the best-selling book, “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” It was recently published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She works in SHRM’s award-winning editorial division. SHRM is the world’s largest association dedicated to the HR profession. In that role, She has become a subject matter expert on the evolution of HR technology, Social Media Strategies, and Global HR.

Connect with her on LinkedIn | Buy “A Necessary Evil” at the SHRM Store | Follow @1SHRMScribe on Twitter

Click to see more information about Aliah's new book

Click to see more information about Aliah’s new book

Why Role Playing Can Be An Effective Interview Technique

While many companies hire based on candidates’ experience, others find raw talent to be a stronger harbinger of success. But, how do you identify and measure “raw talent” during the hiring process?

Austin Merritt, the COO at Software Advice–a website that presents reviews and ratings of human resource information systems (HRIS)–recently shared how he objectively measures raw talent during his team’s hiring process. In a post on Software Advice’s New Talent Times blog, Merritt shares his “coffee scenario,” a role-playing scenario used when hiring for his inside sales team. It closely imitates the process his team goes through when placing sales calls. Except, instead of advising the caller on what software to purchase, the job candidate advises the caller on what coffee shop to visit. Here are a few key tips Merritt has shared about his process: 

Develop a set of competencies to look for

What are the top uncoachable competencies required for a person to thrive in a role? For example, when hiring for their sales team, Software Advice grades along the following criteria:

  • Articulation – Do they clearly communicate their thoughts?

  • Energy – Does the candidate appear alert and genuine on calls?

  • Ability to take control – Can the candidate steer the conversation?

  • Ability to think on their feet – Can the candidate respond calmly, but quickly?

  • Coachability – Does the candidate understand the scenario enough to apply?

Your competencies may (and probably should) be different. Identify what empowers current star performers to be successful, and make your list of competencies around these qualities.

Create a project that tests each of them

The “coffee scenario” is effective because coffee is a familiar subject matter. Candidates are familiar with coffee, and it allows interviewers to focus on talent over domain expertise. The topic should be common enough for candidates to complete successfully without much preparation. In Software Advice’s instance, they set up a 10-minute mock sales call, but it doesn’t have be a phone call. Create something you can present to an applicant before meeting them in person.

Use a universal grade scale for performance

To ensure that every candidate gets a fair shot, develop a scoring method that can be kept consistent. If someone scores low in one area, but nails the others, it may be worthwhile to give the candidate another shot at the role-playing scenario. It doesn’t take too long, and by giving people a second chance, you’re leaving no stone unturned.

Before you bring someone to your office, try out a short role-playing scenario for them to showcase their raw talent. It’s a quick and easy way to critically assess strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of an interview process.

How to Pay an Employee Who Works During Daylight Savings Time

Once of the most confusing payroll and time keeping concerns revolve around Daylight Savings Time and how to pay employees when they either lose or gain an hour during their shift.

In 2013, Daylight Savings Time begins (springs forward) on Sunday, March 10, 2013 and ends (falls back) on November 3, 2013.

So, how do you pay an employee while we’re stuck in the time warp? Here are the quick and easy answers:

Spring Forward (in the spring):

  • If an employee works at 2am and then the clock moves forward to 4am when it would normally move to 3am, you are required to pay for both the 2am hour and the phantom 3am hour as two separate hours, not just one.

Fall Backward (in the fall):

  • If an employee works at 2am and then the clock resets to 2am again when it would normally move to 3am, you are required to pay these two hours as two separate hours, not just one.


  • Companies are required to pay employees for all hours worked, even if this includes additional overtime.
  • Communicating the change to your staff well ahead of time can result in less confusion when the time change occurs and during payroll and time sheet reconciliation after the switch occurs.
  • It’s better to be safe than sorry: Consult the US DOL ( or Jumpstart:HR for any of your overtime wage determination questions.

The “D” Word That No One is Talking About in Corporate America

Micro-managing managers, policies that limit employee autonomy and critical thinking and zero attempts to expand employee knowledge through company approved training and development programs.

Do these ring a bell or resonate with your current workplace? If so, then “Houston, we have a problem.”

Demoralization, defined. By definition, to demoralize is to “undermine the confidence or morale of; dishearten.” Whenever someone is demoralized, there are negative implications like anger, resentment, lack of motivation and lack of trust. One recent – non-HR yet still scientific published in The Journal for Psychosomatics  – survey even ties demoralization with psychological distress (83%) and depression (44%)  in their sample population.

Demoralization in the workplace. Demoralization can happen as a result of policies that result in angry, resentful employees. While no one sets out to debase their employees on purpose, it’s very important to be mindful of the psychological effects that can result when new policies are established. For example, if there is a new policy that limits a certain benefit or restricts professional growth and autonomy in any way, it would be in your organization’s best interest to track the psychological response from these policies – through survey or brief employee interviews. Why? Because the impact of demoralizing policies can always be tied employee disengagement which results in measurable decreased levels of productivity.

Burnout or Demoralization? Which one is it? The terms burnout and demoralization may seem similar at first but they are actually very different. Burnout occurs  gradually when you have simply exhausted your physical capacity to complete a job. For example, years of repetitive tasks and stagnancy can lead to burnout. Everyone needs to get away at some point and the best prescription is a sabbatical or extended vacation. If that’s not possible, perhaps cross-training in another business function to stay engaged and learning something new. However, demoralization is instantaneous and is not fixed by just “getting away.” Whenever an employee is demoralized, it can negatively impact their view of the workplace, coworkers, their job, customers, etc. The only fix for removing demoralization is to remove the source of demoralization which is oftentimes a policy that has resulted in negative emotional sentiment amongst employees.

How do you measure demoralization in the workplace? Demoralization can be measured through surveys that gauge emotional sentiment of employees in the workplace. The key, however, is to actually do something about what you find in your feedback or that can actually make the demoralization much, much worse. Employees who work in organizations that are apathetic to their emotional needs are the most demoralized. If you are not sure how to conduct a survey on employee demoralization or feel that it would be best to have a neutral third-party conduct such testing, Jumpstart:HR can provide such a test and make recommendations on how best to turn emotional sentiment around while still navigating the confines of key business objectives that cannot be disrupted.


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