In 1943 American psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper outlining five fundamental human needs. He presented them in a pyramid shape now known across the world as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This principal can be applied to many areas of life and helps identify the motivation a person needs to succeed in life.
At You HR Consultancy our service offerings capture Maslow’s needs in an employment environment and our diagram illustrates how the pyramid can be applied within your business.
The pyramid works from the bottom up; without the needs at the bottom being met the individual is unable to focus on anything higher up. Therefore, a successful business ensures that the basic level needs are met.
In using the model we can see in employment terms that:
Physiological needs Can be met through having a contract of employment, handbook and job description that clearly defines the expectations from both employer and employee. A place to work that is comfortable, clean and bright, with essential facilities including refreshments, possibly parking/transportation access, ability to get a bit of ‘fresh air’ when needed, as well as receiving a regular monthly salary and the ability to utilise any other staff benefits (i.e. induction, training/onboarding, annual leave, and other statutory entitlements). The real core basic level needs in employment.
Safety needs These can be met by having a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) compliant work station, employees feeling secure when in work and a general sense of wellness. Accessing benefits such as a pension scheme, flexible working, occupational health advice along with understanding the emphasis your business places on health, safety and compliance of good governance as a dutiful employer in the working environment are vital components for an employee to feel safe and well. Employees need to feel comfortable to ‘speak up’ whenever there is a concern and feel safe in doing so without fear of reprisal. In today’s working world where working remotely (i.e. from home) is becoming more common, employers should ensure that safety needs extend to remote working, for those employees working off-site.
Social needs Having a sociable team culture is vital. Maintaining effective communication at all levels to ensure an open culture is key to successfully engaging and including all employees. Encouraging social activities inside and outside of work, including remote workers will help satisfy these needs, whether a team lunch, virtual dialling into meetings / walking meetings, wellbeing classes such as yoga, team building events and much more. So much of what can break down in the workplace centres around communication; whether a lack of it, failure to provide clarity, not dealing promptly with difficult conversations addressing miscommunications/misunderstandings. We are, after all, only human and how we want to be treated socially and in the workplace is broadly the same.
Esteem Celebration of employee achievement is a great way to boost self esteem, loyalty, retention, motivation and a general feeling of respect. Having a robust appraisal system in place will naturally encourage employees to feel valued, to know their worth and appreciation from others in your business’s hierarchy. Appraisals can set out learning needs, levels of competence, share feedback and allow for reflection on performance, along with setting clear ‘stretched’ objectives and set out indicators to recognise exceptional performance, such as bonus schemes and/or other incentives – all being key contributors to addressing self-esteem to keep employees performing at their productive best.
Self-actualisation At the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy is the need to fulfil what an employee desires to become. This level is often referred to as the ‘growth’ need and varies between employees and sometimes is not always completely fulfilled, though this realisation must be through self-choice and not through the employer failing to meet the need. Employees generally want to work efficiently and know they’ve done a good job, they want to ultimately be happy and feel they have accomplished something in work-life. Most employees desire to have challenges and a desire to succeed and achieve perhaps in an area of specialism or skill.
Employees needs constantly change and there are many drivers that create change in life, whether inside or outside of work. Human nature dictates that we will always desire the level above the one we are on. Recognition, praise and pay rises from previous years won’t motivate an employee for very long and the need to strive to improve will be strong in most employees. It is important to continually adapt to satisfy the need of employees, however, this in turn ultimately increases productivity so investing in your employees is of benefit to both.
As time has gone by motivation has widened from the original Hierarchy of Needs but this still remains relevant and as such can help employers achieve organisational goals including improving work environments and thereby recruiting and retaining the best employees!
Need a hand to implement your employee plans?
We offer a free HR Healthcheck to explore whether your Hierarchy of Needs are being met and can help make a plan for you to move forwards. We cover Transactional HR, People and Organisational Development, Organisational Change as well as Workplace Wellbeing and offer a range of services that best meet your needs. Get in touch with us to see how we can help you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or to book a no obligation meeting call us on 01491 820 764.