Maslow’s pyramid of needs in a business context

The US psychologist Abraham Maslow found out that the possibilities for people’s motivation are based on their current situation. People who have to worry about their economic survival work primarily because they need money. They will do almost anything for money. Whether the work is in line with their interests is not important to them. But you are unlikely to get people in such situations to do more if the extra work is not immediately paid for.

When survival is no longer in question, people want to protect themselves. A secure job is worth more to them than an activity that really brings them fulfilment. Such people will hardly be motivated by their job. They will do their work if they know that they will be provided for in the long term. If a certain social affiliation is then added and people perceive themselves as part of an organization, an emotional attachment to the organization may result. They identify with their employer. Such people are willing to do something more if it is good for the organization. If people then see meaning and purpose in their work and recognize the mission to which they are contributing, they will be strongly committed. Leadership is needed to provide this orientation and to recognize the commitment. In the highest level of motivation, people self-actualize. They are known and sought after as experts on specific topics, are able to develop well personally, professionally and academically in their fields of interest, and inspire others with their expertise. Such people are highly engaged. And the motivation level is not a question of hierarchical level in the organization.

All levels of motivation can be found at any level of hierarchy. Help your employees meet their current needs and guide them to the next level of motivation. By the way, if you compare companies with each other, you will see that there are differences in terms of the average motivation level of the workforce. The higher the motivation level, the more employee engagement you will experience and the more dynamically the organization will function.

Feel free to include yourself in the consideration. You always have the choice to accept the situation, change it, or reorientate yourself. The same is true for your employees. Make your employees aware of these three options and ask them to choose. “Accepting” leads to frustration and inner resignation. Special performance will hardly be expected. “Change” requires commitment, but also a suitable corporate culture. Promote a culture in which suggestions for change are positively received and implemented. Otherwise, the only remaining option is “to reorientate”. As a rule, you will lose capable employees for whom meaningful work is more important than job security. Do not rely on the fact that a long period of service with the company precludes termination.


What are your challenges?

Restart Dialogue