Nov 2022

From Hygienic Factors to Motivational Factors

By Christian Talbot, President of MSA-CESS

The New York City Department of Health uses a letter grading system for restaurants. In the front window of the establishment, a placard displays the grade to the public. No restaurant owner wants to receive anything less than an A—after all, this is NYC, so a B or C could mean roaches, or rats!

However, nobody can earn an A+. A scrupulous owner might scrub the grout with a toothbrush, and that would in fact make the place cleaner, but they won’t get anything extra for the effort.

In other words, the restaurant’s cleanliness and safety have to be “good enough.” After the owner has reassured a customer that the restaurant’s “hygiene” is adequate, they can emphasize differentiating factors such as menu, ambiance, price, and location.

I immediately thought of this analogy when I encountered the “Teacher Motivation” section in Michael Horn’s From Reopen to Reinvent. For over 50 years, theorists and researchers like Frederick Hertzberg, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, and (in the world of education) Robert Evans, have shown that two different species of factors motivate us at work: hygienic and motivating.


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