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Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Theory

Abraham Maslow is well renowned for proposing the Hierarchy of Needs Theory in 1943. This
theory is a classical depiction of human motivation. This theory is based on the assumption that
there is a hierarchy of five needs within each individual. The urgency of these needs varies.
These five needs are as follows-

1. Physiological needs- These are the

basic needs of air, water, food,
clothing and shelter. In other words,
physiological needs are the needs
for basic amenities of life.

2. Safety needs- Safety needs include

physical, environmental and
emotional safety and protection.
For instance- Job security, financial
security, protection from animals, FI
family security, health security, etc. GURE: Maslows Need Hierarchy Model

3. Social needs- Social needs include

the need for love, affection, care,
belongingness, and friendship.

4. Esteem needs- Esteem needs are of

two types: internal esteem needs
(self- respect, confidence,
competence, achievement and
freedom) and external esteem needs
(recognition, power, status,
attention and admiration).

5. Self-actualization need- This

include the urge to become what
you are capable of becoming / what
you have the potential to become. It
includes the need for growth and
self-contentment. It also includes
desire for gaining more knowledge,
social- service, creativity and being
aesthetic. The self- actualization
needs are never fully satiable. As an
individual grows psychologically,
opportunities keep cropping up to
continue growing.

According to Maslow, individuals are

motivated by unsatisfied needs. As each of
these needs is significantly satisfied, it
drives and forces the next need to emerge.
Maslow grouped the five needs into two
categories - Higher-order needs and
Lower-order needs. The physiological and
the safety needs constituted the lower-order
needs. These lower-order needs are mainly
satisfied externally. The social, esteem, and
self-actualization needs constituted the
higher-order needs. These higher-order
needs are generally satisfied internally, i.e.,
within an individual. Thus, we can
conclude that during boom period, the
employees lower-order needs are
significantly met.

Implications of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Theory for Managers

As far as the physiological needs are concerned, the managers should give employees
appropriate salaries to purchase the basic necessities of life. Breaks and eating opportunities
should be given to employees.
As far as the safety needs are concerned, the managers should provide the employees job
security, safe and hygienic work environment, and retirement benefits so as to retain them.
As far as social needs are concerned, the management should encourage teamwork and
organize social events.
As far as esteem needs are concerned, the managers can appreciate and reward employees
on accomplishing and exceeding their targets. The management can give the deserved
employee higher job rank / position in the organization.
As far as self-actualization needs are concerned, the managers can give the employees
challenging jobs in which the employees skills and competencies are fully utilized.
Moreover, growth opportunities can be given to them so that they can reach the peak.
The managers must identify the need level at which the employee is existing and then those
needs can be utilized as push for motivation.

Limitations of Maslows Theory

It is essential to note that not all employees are governed by same set of needs. Different
individuals may be driven by different needs at same point of time. It is always the most
powerful unsatisfied need that motivates an individual.

The theory is not empirically supported.

The theory is not applicable in case of starving artist as even if the artists basic needs are
not satisfied, he will still strive for recognition and achievement.

Maslow work situations

When Maslow's hierarchy of needs is applied to work situations, it implies that managers have
the responsibility, firstly, to make sure the deficiency needs are met. This means, in broad terms,
a safe environment and proper wages. Secondly, it implies creating a proper climate in which
employees can develop their fullest potential. Failure to do so would theoretically increase
employee frustration and could result in poorer performance, lower job satisfaction, and
increased withdrawal from the organization.

For example, according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory job insecurity and the threat of
layoffs, will block the person from their higher growth needs. They might work harder to get
security, but without fulfilling their other needs. If security doesn't return they will fulfill their
needs elsewhere or burn out.

How to satisfy employee's needs

The figure below shows some potential ways of satisfying employee needs according to
Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory. Some of these are easy and inexpensive to implement,
others are hard and costly. Also, the employees' needs may vary. However, if you manage to
implement at least some of these strategies you will be looked at as more considerate, supportive
and interested in your people's welfare.

Need Examples

Vending machines
Drinking fountains

Security Economic

Wages and salaries

Fringe benefits
Retirement benefits

Medical benefits


Provide job descriptions

Avoid abrupt changes

Solve employee's problems


Working conditions

Heating and ventilation

Rest periods

Encourage social interaction

Create team spirit

Facilitate outside social activities

Use periodic praise

Allow participation

Design challenging jobs

Use praise and awards

Delegate responsibilities
Give training

Encourage participation

Self-actualization Give training

Provide challenges

Encourage creativity

Implications for financial incentives in Maslow's hierarchy

of needs model
In Maslow's hierarchy of needs model, wages are part of the deficiency needs. That means that
they serve as a measure of security, and that people will feel unfulfilled in their need for safety
until they have it.

Giving financial bonuses is a different matter. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs model, these can
serve to fulfill the need for esteem. However, the way they are awarded is also important: if they
aren't given in an atmosphere of praise but as a mere benefit for reaching a certain goal, they can
work counterproductively as they will be seen as mere wages, and as such only serve to satisfy
someone's deficiency needs, or not at all (if they don't really need the money).

Maslow Theory of Motivation - The Basis of Successful Change

The Maslow Theory of Motivation also known as "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs"
model was developed between 1943-1954, and first widely published in "Motivation
and Personality" in 1954. Starting from the premise that each human being is
motivated by needs that are inborn, presumably as a result of tens of thousands of
years of evolution, here is the hierarchy in ascending order:

(1) Physiological needs

These are the very basic needs such as air, water, food, sleep, sex, etc. When these
are not satisfied we may feel sickness, irritation, pain, discomfort, etc. These
feelings motivate us to alleviate them as soon as possible to establish homeostasis.
Once they are alleviated, we may think about other things.

(2) Safety needs

These have to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic world.

These needs are mostly psychological in nature. We need the security of a home
and family. However, if a family is dysfunction, i.e., an abused child - cannot move
to the next level as she is continuously fearful for her safety. Love and a sense of
belonging are postponed until she feel safe.

(3) Love and needs of belonging

Humans have [in varying degrees of intensity] a strong desire to affiliate by joining
groups such as societies, clubs, professional associations, churches and religious
groups etc. There is a universal need to feel love and acceptance by others.

(4) Self-Esteem needs

There are essentially two types of esteem needs: self-esteem resulting from
competence or mastery of a task; and the esteem and good opinion of other people.

(5) The need for self-actualisation

Maslow theory of motivation proposes that people who have all their "lower order"
needs met progress towards the fulfilment their potential. Typically this can include
the pursuit of knowledge, peace, esthetic experiences, self-fulfillment, oneness with
God, nirvana, enlightenment etc. So ultimately this is all to do with the desire for
self transcendence.

A paradigm shift that forms the basis for good leadership and successful
change management

The Maslow theory of motivation brought a new face to the study of human
behaviour. Maslow was inspired by greatness in the minds of others, and his own
special contribution to the field of motivational psychology led to the creation of the
concept of Humanistic Psychology. Most psychologists prior to Maslow had focused
on the mentally ill and the abnormal. In complete contrast the Maslow theory of
motivation investigated and attempted to define positive mental health.

In so doing, he instigated a paradigm shift via Humanistic Psychology - predicated

on the belief that humans are not simply blindly reacting to situations, but trying to
accomplish something greater. This new approach represented in the Maslow theory
of motivation became the source of many new and different therapies, all grounded
in the belief that people possess the inner resources for growth and healing and
that the point of therapy is to help remove obstacles to individuals' achieving them.

It also forms the basis of much current understanding of what constitutes good
leadership and forms a major foundation of prevailing models and theories of
successful change management. The most fundamental value of this theory is to
emphasise and remind those of us involved in leading and managing change of the
complexity and multi-facted nature of human needs and motivational drives. Closely
aligned to that observation is the difficult realisation that people have transcendent
needs and aspirations as well as the more prosaic needs of survival and "pay and