Employer Branding

Finding Career Satisfaction

We hear this constantly, HR Managers trying to work out how to keep their team members satisfied so they stay motivated, and employees trying to find motivation with what they are offered because they are no longer satisfied.

Research on career satisfaction has throughout time been a very challenging debate. How do organisations keep individuals satisfied when their needs change so quickly? When what we have to offer as a business can’t change as quickly? When the demands of modern-day life can no longer be addressed through the traditional employee reward and recognition programs.

The reality is, being satisfied in a role is not something that can be achieved if you stay stagnant in your career. What you need to be satisfied changes as your experience grows, your personal needs and priorities shift, and as the demands and expectations from the world of work shifts.

Around the 1950’s Herzberg penned a theory that has still been researched as being valid through to today. What is known as the dual-factor theory identifies two aspects of satisfaction, which is unique as many people believe that satisfaction is only achieved on a single level. Specifically, the research showed and continues to show that to remain satisfied, we need to consider the aspect of what we need from a hygiene perspective as well as what we need as a motivational factor?

What are the hygiene factors?

The hygiene factors are things that can be offered and achieved in a workplace that meet the fundamental needs of an employee. These can include salary, working conditions and benefits, job security and status.

What happens when we do not meet the hygiene factors?

What continues to be recognised is that not getting these hygiene factors does not always mean we will be more satisfied or more motivated. But, if we don’t get them, we can become extremely dissatisfied in our careers. Confusing I know, but by now explaining the motivating factors.

What are the motivating factors?

The motivating factors provide positive engagement and satisfaction. These include things such as being challenged in our work, receiving recognition, being provided responsibility including contributing to what can make decisions and the future of the business and feeling like we have an opportunity to grow, develop and feel a sense of importance in our roles, organisation and career.

What happens when we do not receive the motivating factors?

Motivating factors increase the level of motivation of employees and as a result the overall performance of the work environment. This means that if an employee is achieving their motivating factors, they will be motivated and in turn can contribute to the development of a positive work culture.

What do the combinations of the theories result in?

According to Herzberg, there are four possible combinations:

  • High Hygiene + High Motivation: This is the best situation. You will have motivated employees with few complaints and a positive work culture.
  • High Hygiene + Low Motivation: You will not hear too many complaints however you will not see much motivation in the work environment. This is a job for the sake of a job, not an opportunity to contribute to a positive work environment.
  • Low Hygiene + High Motivation: Wow, how motivated are your team members but why are they still complaining! You might have really exciting work but if they don’t feel rewarded and remunerated for what they are doing they will talk about it.
  • Low Hygiene + Low Motivation: This is a really bad situation. You will not have a motivated work culture and you will hear a lot of complaints and issues from your team.

The needs of all of us will be different across our career, but by understanding that there are 2 areas that we need to focus on to be satisfied and motivated in our careers, then we have a greater chance of being able to understand the issues we may be facing and what we need to overcome it.

By Rebecca Fraser

Rebecca Fraser is a Leader of learning and development for organisations and individuals. She is highly recognised for her contribution to the industry and for her work in the media providing information on modern day job search strategies. She is the author of ‘How to get a job in the 21st century’, her newest release on job search and resumes.