Maslows Hierarchy Of Needs Applied To Employee Engagement

The Hierarchy of Needs was created by Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, who argued that the psychological health was dependent on fulfilling the needs of the priority. Maslow argued that individuals need to satisfy basic needs such as safety and security in order to then realise their own personal growth and development. The needs in Maslow’s theory are, in order:

  1. Survival- these are biological needs such as food, water and sleep
  2. Safety- this need requires stability, security and protection from elements
  3. Belonging- this is the need for friendship, love and affection
  4. Importance- the need to achieve and master things and gain independence
  5. Self-Actualisation- this is the need that requires people to fulfill their potential

The same theory can be applied to how employees engage with their work. For many people the basic needs of a job are that the salary allows them to pay the bills and live the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Having a sense of financial independence is innate in almost every one of us with very few people brave enough to run a risk and disregard monetary reward in favour of other factors. For many of us this is survival.  

  1. Survival – We know this is a basic need. This includes the need to have a job, a salary that pays the bills, and a sense of financial independence.

The sense of stability and what is also known as job security is apparent where most people fear the thought of losing their job. People generally crave security and structure in the workplace, and much like salary would put this need above other aspects of the job.

  1. Safety- We have the need to know that our job is secure. It causes people to need structure in their work place with a chain of command and a process for their duties so that they feel confident that they are doing their job correctly.

Many employers will have no issues fulfilling those 2 basic needs, especially when it comes to higher level positions. But once they have attracted the best talent by satisfying their survival and safety needs, this is where Maslow’s hierarchy really comes into play.

The next level is a sense of belonging- holding trust and acceptance in the workplace. As the hierarchy demonstrates employees need to feel as though they are part of something bigger and are valued for their contribution. This can only be achieved by instilling those beliefs from the top-down, whilst creating a sense of unity between seniors and staff members.

  1. Belonging- People like to feel as though they are part of a team and that they are valued by the company. If your organisation is set up around team principles, then this sense of belonging should come most naturally.

This leads onto the need for importance, which enables individuals to engage with their job and the company that they work for. This feeling of significance, is vital if an employee is going to feel any real affinity towards their employer.

  1. Importance- the sense that people are made to feel part of the team, projects and overall organisation. If you make your staff feel as though they are integral to the companies values and goals then that’s when you have reached the high engagement holy grail.

Self-Actualisation is the final need where most employees have the ambition to achieve more than what they are currently achieving in their position. When they reach this point, and are taking full advantage of all the tools available to them, they inspire others along the way and create a ripple effect on employee engagement

  1. Self-Actualisation- If you give your staff the opportunities for growth, learning and leadership advancements, this will provide them with all the tools they need to begin to self-actualise within your business.

Maslows hierarchy of needs are critical for the fulfillment of satisfying professional and life careers. How can you provide this type of environment for your employees?

The first two needs are easy to implement- pay your employees a livable wage and don’t make them feel as though their job is on the line.

Have a strong organisational structure that supports teamwork, as well as recognizing when your employees perform well and their accomplishments. Incentive programs also work well, where employees receive tangible rewards for their performance. This will emotionally connect people to their jobs creating a sense of importance and accomplishment.

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