When employees are treated well, they are motivated to do their best. On the other hand, when their needs are ignored, they can feel unmotivated and disengaged. Even being able to think about leaving the company. 5 levels of Maslow hierarchy of needs
Good leaders recognize that if they are to build productive and highly successful teams, they need to understand, respond to the needs and well-being of their team members. But it was not always so.
Psychologists used to focus on what was “wrong” with people, but that approach changed in the 1940s and 1950s to think more about what was “right” in them. Since then, employers have increasingly adopted more positive and collaborative approaches.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was a pioneering and influential model in this field. Published in his 1943 article, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” and popularized in his 1954 book, “Motivation and Personality,” it can still help us support and motivate our team members today!
Basic Human Needs
Maslow’s theory states that as we humans strive to meet our most basic needs, we also seek to satisfy a higher set of needs until we grow up to become “self-fulfilling” or “all we can be. “.
At work, this can mean discovering a deep purpose and passion in our role and delivering on true excellence.
Maslow believed that everyone has the potential to be fulfilled, but that the adversities of life push us back and create barriers that we must overcome. 5 levels of Maslow hierarchy of needs
So what are our basic (human) needs?
The most fundamental level is about what keeps us alive and working. This is followed by physical, mental and emotional security and a healthy self-awareness.
Maslow’s list of motivating needs is:
- Physiological / bodily needs.
- Security / protection needs.
- Needs for love / belonging.
- Esteem needs.
- Self-actualization needs.
Maslow did not create the pyramid alone, but he never publicly rejected these representations either.
Maslow believed that the higher-level needs for self-esteem and satisfaction can only be met after the lower-level needs are at least partially satisfied. But he was careful to explain that it was not necessary (or probably possible) to fully satisfy one level of need before the next level emerged as a motivating force.
Maslow’s model can help you identify the needs of your team members and think about what you can do to meet them. It can be especially helpful in your daily routine when you’re thinking about how best to develop your team and allow them to thrive.
Maslow Levels – Examples
Let’s look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in more detail:
Level 1: Physiology, Body
Physiological needs are biological needs such as oxygen, food, water and sleep. They are the basis of the hierarchy and the strongest motivational needs, as our survival depends on their satisfaction.
Consider the impact of working excessively long hours in a dark, stuffy environment with no access to lavatories. Such careless or cruel treatment of workers contributes little to long-term productivity, and employers often have a legal obligation to meet these needs. But there is a clear humanitarian imperative to do this too.
Level 2: Protection, Security
According to Maslow, the need for physical security becomes evident when a person’s biological needs begin to be met. This could mean safeguarding yourself from illness or violence, for example. 5 levels of Maslow hierarchy of needs
In affluent and peaceful societies, citizens are not well aware of security needs until a crisis arises, but it is important to understand that need in all workplaces.
For example, the manager has a duty of care to protect his team from working in extreme temperatures, using faulty machines and facing aggressive co-workers or customers. All of these are threats to the safety and protection of your team, as is exposure to COVID-19.
Understanding this need will also help you handle layoffs and redundancies sensitively.
Level 3: love and belonging
Once the need for security is satisfied, the need for a sense of belonging becomes evident. Maslow says that people try to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation when cultivating relationships.
Despite the world’s growing digital interconnectedness, managers increasingly see this need, especially in virtual or “distributed” workplaces.
Consequently, our growing reliance on virtual meetings and messaging applications.
Be sure to pay special attention to lone workers, such as drivers or self-employed contractors, and people from minority communities. Make your way into your team with positive narratives and receive a warm welcome in addition to integration.
Level 4: Esteem
Once the first three classes of needs are largely met, the need for esteem arises. This includes the respect and recognition a person gets from others and their own sense of worth, competence and independence.
If these needs are not met at work, the employee may feel frustrated or inferior and may become withdrawn or angry. 5 levels of Maslow hierarchy of needs
So do your part to create an inclusive workplace where all team members feel heard and valued. Be ready to provide training or guidance as appropriate, and remember to reward and praise your people for their contributions. You can also encourage collaboration and initiative by deftly delegating.
Level 5: Self-realization
According to Maslow, self-actualization is when a person can do what they feel they should do and be who they ought to be. The need for self-fulfillment is present in all of us, but it can only be satisfied when all the lower needs are sufficiently satisfied.
Self-actualization may involve brief, transcendental “top experiences,” but it is also characterized by a continually renewed commitment to growing, despite any fears we may have.
As a manager, you may feel intimidated or even discouraged by Maslow’s talk of wonder and release. But it’s just as important to help your team members meet that need as the four previous needs.
Otherwise, your people can become disillusioned, restless and unproductive. They may feel that you are holding them back from growing or that you are not interested in their thoughts and ideas. This can lead them to seek satisfaction elsewhere. And it can result in the loss of an exceptional worker!
Maslow noted that “self-actualizers” do not seek happiness, although they may be lucky enough to experience it. Instead, they are driven by their sense of values, purpose and potential.
The meaning of Maslow’s model for managers
How can Maslow’s model help managers? Here are four suggestions:
- Meet people’s basic needs. It sounds simple, but even the most capable, confident, and respected people have basic needs that must continue to be met if they are to remain motivated and productive. This is especially relevant during a crisis, whether it is a global event such as a pandemic or a personal issue such as debt. 5 levels of Maslow hierarchy of needs
- Motivation is much more than money. Cash is not enough! People have many needs that need to be met above and beyond that.
- Satisfaction can be achieved in many different ways. The model gives managers a wide range of tools they can use to build team satisfaction, even if they don’t have a lot of money to dole out. It usually doesn’t cost much to provide a safe working environment. It is often inexpensive to have social events where team members can get to know each other outside of the work environment. And it costs nothing to praise the worker when a task is done well.
- Self-realization can be achieved by anyone. Finally, Maslow’s conviction that we all have the potential for self-fulfillment can be a source of hope and encouragement for all of us.