Two-Factor Motivation of Direct Support Professionals

Motivation of Direct Support Professionals (DSP's) can be a daunting task. To examine ways to motivate DSP's we can consider the two-factor theory. The psychologist Frederick Herzberg studied and theorized the motivational theory or the two-factor theory. The Motivational Theory further refines Maslow's hierarchy of needs and applies to organizational motivation of employees.

The basic idea of ​​the theory, however, is that there are various factors in our workplaces that increase satisfaction, as well as an equal amount of dissatisfaction. These two causes are independent of each other. Hertzberg conducted an experiment where employees were asked what made them happy and sad at work. Analyzing the list, he found, that the two factors were unconnected. In order to explain this further, he developed the motivation-hygiene theory. Here, the motivational factors were the ones that satisfied the employees, while the hygiene factors (one that involves maintenance) were the dissatisfactory ones.

Leading to satisfaction (motivation) were listed as the achievement, personal recognition, work itself, responsibility, advancement and growth needs. While the ones leading to dissatisfaction (hygiene) were: supervision, company policy, relationship with supervisor, work conditions, salary and relationship with coworkers. However, just because they are completely different from each other does not mean that they are opposing elements. Thus from analysing all these factors, he found that an individual can satisfy the needs such as achievement, competency, personal worth as well as status. However, the absence of these factors needs not necessarily lead to dissatisfaction or unhappiness.

That is why the theory divides the factors into two separate sections. Hertzberg felt that when an individual performed a work related activity by his choice, when he wants to, it becomes "motivation".

To answer what motivates DSP's, we need to take a look at the hygiene factors listed out by Herzberg. If those issues are tackled by the management in the company one-by-one, then it automatically translates into an increased sense of motivation. Amongst these, pay, working conditions and job security and the overall job satisfaction feature as some of the most important factors that motivate employees within an organization.

Hygiene factors may not lead to increased motivation, but the absence of these factors will lead to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfied people leave employment in an attempt to meet their hygiene factors. Take, for example, pay. Organizations often say that pay does not motivate employee's. Achievement, status and recognition is well known as motivating factors, but if hygiene needs are unmet, people will not likely be motivated. Reasonable compensation helps to provide for financial safety and security. Supervision, company policy, relationship with supervisor, work conditions, relationship with coworkers are important to employee satisfaction and money is just one part.

On a national average, DSP turnover rates exceed 70%. Pay hovers around federal minimum wage. Supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be a challenge, but it can also be a rewarding experience. Considering hygiene needs as means to stimulate motivation, just makes good business sense. Organization can accomplish this by applying a human perspective and emotional understanding.

DSP's often end employment at one agency and hop to another. Obviously, they enjoy the type of work, so what are they searching for?

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