The most obvious way to employee retention is employee satisfaction. But what drives satisfaction in the workplace differs greatly across individuals and contexts.
One way to look at motivation is through Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory. Conceptualized by psychologist Fredrick Herzberg, this dual-factor theory states that competing forces contribute to employee satisfaction. On the one hand, several factors enhance employee satisfaction, while on the other hand, several factors contribute to employee dissatisfaction. One of the more interesting elements of the theory is that all of these factors act independently. By focusing on these key areas outlined by Herzberg’s theory, you are likely to design an employee retention strategy that is bound to resonate with nearly every employee.
Factors Driving Dissatisfaction
As the name suggests, Herberg’s theory is made up of two components: motivation and hygiene. Hygiene factors are comprised of the psychological needs that employees require to be fulfilled in the workplace. Without these factors, employees will lack the basic requirements needed to move on to the motivational factors of the model. So what are the hygiene factors? They include working conditions, peer relationships, compensation, leadership quality, job security, and status. While these factors are all important, do not expect to invest in them and immediately see a spike in employee satisfaction. Rather view them as absolute must-haves since not having these up to pay will directly contribute to dissatisfaction among employees. By identifying and minimizing dissatisfaction, you can increase engagement, motivation and lessens the likelihood of burnout.
Factors Driving Satisfaction
Most advice on how to retain top employees includes hygiene factors - namely compensation and peer relationships. However, simply avoiding dissatisfaction is not enough for employee retention, which brings us to our next point of factors that enhance satisfaction. These factors include promotions, personal growth opportunities, recognition, responsibility, and achievement. By providing ample opportunity and recognition to your employees, you allow motivation to flourish, bringing your satisfaction and retention scores to the next level.
Ideally, you have a mix of both high hygiene and motivational factors. But it is unlikely that an organization is exceeding in all areas. For example, startups are typically high in motivational factors but fall short in pay and office space. Meanwhile, corporations tend to find themselves well-equipped in hygiene factors, but their employees lack the motivation to go the extra mile. The most detrimental scenario is when a company falls short on both, which is why an ideal retention strategy makes sure to address all factors across both categories. However, recognizing your organization's shortcomings can help you identify where you currently fall on the grid and identify areas of improvement to help you reach the upper-right quadrant.
If you want to learn more about how to connect with and retain your top talent, check out our e-book Employee Retention 101 where we cover everything from common retention mistakes to best practices.