Applying Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs To The Workplace

1. Physiological Needs

Abraham Maslow realized that people need to deal with the survival needs before they move on to any other level of needs. If they do not have the necessary food, clothing, water, shelter — or comparable elements to survive — they are not likely to be concerned about learning new skills to qualify them for future jobs. In the workplace, simple things like snacks, clean water (such as that from the watercooler) and coffee will go a long way in meeting your employees’ basic physiological needs.

2. Safety Needs

To address this level of the hierarchy, you must consider physical as well as psychological safety and security. As a supervisor you can do common sense things like make sure that the environment contains no safety hazards. You can also provide mental security by explaining how to become more effective and efficient in the workplace, helping them feel safer in their position with the company.

3. Social Needs

This level of Maslow’s theory deals with love, acceptance, friendship, and companionship. As a supervisor, you can address the need that many people have to socialize and feel part of a group by creating a work environment that harbors opportunities for participation and interaction with others. Start networking sessions before or after work. Happy hour can be a fun networking time — and it doesn’t need to be at a bar. Additionally, celebrate birthdays and employee anniversaries which will allow the team to interact and build comradery.

4. Esteem Needs

At this point of Maslow’s hierarchy, the focus shifts to the personal ego; self-respect, achievement and receiving recognition for efforts given. Employees want to be respected and appreciated by their coworkers and their bosses. In a learning environment, you can address this need by deferring to someone’s expertise or knowledge, recognizing accomplishments, and otherwise providing an environment where learners can feel the satisfaction of having others applaud accomplishments. You can also build in little accolades during training in which participants cheer or applaud the efforts of someone who accomplishes something, offers a solution, or otherwise does something worthy or group recognition. A simple round of applause for a good response might be appropriate from time-to-time to meet this need. Formal employee awards on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis will create goal a oriented organization.

5. Self-Actualization

Think of the Army slogan of “Be all you can be”. The premise was “Join us and we will provide you with the tools and support you need to reach your maximum potential.” To this effect, as a supervisor, it’s important that you identify where your employees hope to go as it relates to the level of achievement in your company and help them get there. Employee gifts and fun motivational desk accessories will be constant reminders of your message.

The key to successfully applying Maslow’s theory in the workplace is to remember that what motivates one employee does not necessarily motivate another, but motivation is key to retaining employees and achieving business go