Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs In The Workplace


How can employers improve employee motivation and engagement during a pandemic and an economic downturn?
Learn employee needs and create sustainable initiatives to meet them.
Start with the basic needs and go from there.
The logic behind Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is that people first seek to satisfy the lowest level of needs. Well, that makes sense…and if lower level needs aren’t sustained, they become a priority, especially if it’s one of the two lower level, basic material needs. After doing so, people desire to satisfy the higher levels of needs until all levels have been satisfied/achieved. The levels of needs allows a person to feel fulfilled.
Most organizations apply Maslow’s theory in the workplace as a means of determining how to effectively motivate employees and ensure their needs are met.
Knowing how to apply this hierarchy can help companies (and HR pros) determine if their business goals are met or not and how they can better meet the needs of their workforce to ensure goal achievement.
Most people who are just beginning their career will be concerned with and focused on meeting physiological needs, such as adequate wages and stable income, and security needs, such as benefits and a safe place to work. One of our greatest desires is to have a good salary to meet the needs of our family and of course, we all want to work in a stable environment.
Employees whose lowest level needs haven’t been met will make job decisions based on compensation, safety, or stability concerns. Employees will also revert to satisfying their lowest level needs when these needs are no longer met or are threatened, like during an economic downturn or a pandemic.
Prior to COVID, many employees and candidates were secure in their basic needs and happily working on their psychological needs. Companies and their HR teams were focused on incorporating opportunities to meet candidates’ and employees’ professional potential and create a higher level of engagement with their employer brand and EVP (employee value proposition).
We can also use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory as a framework to examine employee and candidate engagement from a post-COVID perspective to see where engagement has broken down. Employees with unmet needs tend to have a lower level of engagement, impacting productivity, teamwork, and ultimately retention. Learn your employees’ and candidates’ needs and create sustainable initiatives to satisfy them.