By: Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs includes five levels of human needs that allow an individual to feel fulfilled. It is often applied to the workplace to determine how to motivate employees and make sure their needs are met more effectively. Understanding this hierarchy can help you determine whether your needs are met in your workplace and how you can better meet the needs of your team. In this article, we explain Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and how it applies in the workplace.
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What is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a concept first introduced by humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow believed that everyone has an innate desire to achieve self-actualisation but, in order to achieve this ultimate goal, we must first have our basic needs met.
Maslow’s hierarchy is usually depicted as a pyramid, with your most basic, physical needs at the bottom and your most complex needs at the very top of the pyramid.
In its simplest form, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are divided into five levels, starting with the base of the pyramid and working its way up to the most complex of needs: physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization.
Why is it important – in life generally and in our professional lives?
If you’re trying to motivate yourself or others to live their best lives, you first must ensure their basic needs are met. You can’t focus on improving your love life, for example, if you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from or if you have a safe place to sleep for the night.
When it comes to your professional life, it reminds us that our personal lives and professional lives are intrinsically linked. It’s nearly impossible to do your best work or achieve your greatest career goals if you don’t first ensure that your more basic needs are being met. This can be everything from the lowest level of the pyramid (food, water, sleep, warmth), to one’s safety and security, to one’s psychological and social needs for love, friendship, and intimacy.
Why do managers and businesses need to bear the above in mind?
As much as we might want to compartmentalise our lives and those of our employees to solely focus on work in the workplace, it’s much easier said than done, especially when so many businesses are operating remotely or considering a hybrid office model in a post-pandemic workplace.
It’s inevitable that your employees’ home lives and household responsibilities will bleed into their workdays. Having a high level of emotional intelligence — the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and handle emotions — has never been more important for effectively managing a team.
While the #MeToo movement fundamentally changed how society deals with sexual harassment and assault, events like the Sarah Everard tragedy from earlier this year remind us that we still have a long way to go to making women feel safe, supported and valued — both in and out of the workplace. If a female employee is worried about being mistreated or harassed, she won’t be able to focus on doing her best work.
In addition, working parents — and working mothers in particular — have faced additional hurdles over the past year that have certainly made it difficult to achieve their best work performance while managing their household duties.
How can businesses ensure they are factoring in the above? – please provide practical examples. What businesses should avoid doing?
As companies begin to reopen their office doors, it’s time to reevaluate their current benefits and programmes to determine whether or not they truly meet the needs of its employees. Businesses should evaluate their diversity policies, its recruiting processes and professional development programmes, and its benefits to ensure individuals of all backgrounds feel welcome, supported, and empowered to share their ideas and perspectives.
Businesses who want to attract and retain female talent should also reconsider some of its business practices (working hours, ability to work remotely, etc.) to ensure they’re fostering a gender-inclusive work environment. Certain benefits (flexible work schedules, additional paid time off, generous parental leave policies, etc.) might also be added to help those who are or who wish to become parents feel as though they’ll be understood and supported in the workplace.