Understand employee motivation




In 1954, Abraham Maslow published his research and findings on the basis of motivation. He called it the Hierarchy of Human Needs. This simple idea has become a fundamental framework for understanding how people are motivated and how they become successful and productive. The hierarchy is represented as a tiered triangle, where each tier must be achieved before the next tier can be reached. 


The bottom four tiers are called ‘deficiency needs’. These are the basic needs the all people need to fulfill and are necessary before an individual can become successful and productive. The top tier is a ‘growth need’. A growth need doesn’t go away, but serves to motivate one further. Let’s examine each tier as it applies to employee motivation; 


Tiers 1 & 2 – Physiological and Safety Needs 

Conventionally, employers only took care of physiological needs – the need for food, water, clothing and necessities to support life. They quickly found that only taking care of the most basic of needs wasn’t enough to motivate employees. Chances are that your employees feel secure in their physiological needs. 


Tiers 3 & 4 – Belonging and Esteem Needs 

Before employees can effectively be creative, ethical, effective problem solvers and otherwise reach the level of self actualization, they need to have their Belonging and Esteem needs met. This is where most employers find challenges with technical professionals and where The Optimal Self focuses. Giving your employees the tools to build their self esteem, gain respect from others and find confidence can be very difficult. While you can directly control the most basic needs (tiers 1 & 2), you can only give employees the tools to fulfilling these, more complicated, needs. Without satisfying belonging and esteem needs, employees will never do their best. 


Tier 5 – Self Actualization 

When you take care of an employee’s physiological, safety, belonging and esteem needs, they can truly do their best. Self Actualization is the point where an employee shines, creates his best ideas, loves to work, and puts everything he can into his profession. You only find employees at this level of productivity at organizations that motivate them through fulfilling their needs. If your employees are important to your business, make sure they’re motivated to give you their best effort and work. If employees don’t communicate well, quit their job, or aren’t giving you their best, look to what motivates them. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides you with a simple framework for understanding how to motivate your employees. If you need help, let us know – click here.


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