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How Can Maslow's Theory of Needs Impact Employee Engagement?

Posted by Brian Spence on Apr 27, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Maslow, Hierarchy, Employee EngagementA successful office or business isn't due to just sales metrics or profit margins. In reality, the most successful businesses have tapped into the most important component to running a business: employee engagement. But how do you make sure that you're engaging employees the right way?

One way businesses can improve employee engagement is to consider Abraham Maslow's theory on the hierarchy of needs. A social scientist and psychologist, Maslow identified 4 key components or needs that individuals must meet in order to reach the 5th need of self-actualization. The first four needs that individuals should meet before self-actualization are physiological (survival) needs, a sense of safety and security, a sense of belonging, and a sense of esteem or value. How can these needs be applied to the workplace?

Here's a model of Maslow's theory when viewed through the eyes of an employer:

  1. Physiological needs. The job should meet their needs for survival, such as a nice salary or wage. Having a decent wage helps employees move up the pyramid and not worry about survival at the most basic level.

  2. Security and safety. Job security is the best way to provide for this need. As an employer, you should be able to support an environment where employees don't feel afraid to speak their minds in fear of losing their job. In addition, the workplace environment should feel safe for all employees, regardless of race, gender, or status. Having an engaging office environment will encourage creativity and in-office professionalism and support

  3. Belonging: A key component of employee engagement is a sense of belonging and acceptance in the company. You should build a team with employees and individuals who are willing to work together and accept others. This can help you create a sense of belonging in your company.

  4. Self-esteem and respect: Employees want to feel valued, so creating an environment that gives everyone space to share their ideas and build connections among co-workers is crucial. You can demonstrate your value in every employee's contributions by encouraging them to speak about their thoughts or ideas on a project. A code of conduct can support effective and responsible communication. In addition, creating clear avenues for promotions or leadership opportunities can encourage self-esteem in hardworking individuals.

  5. Self-actualization: If all previous needs are met, employees can reach a stage of self-actualization. Self-actualization for your business would mean a highly engaging employee who works hard, supports others, and feels like he or she plays an important role in the company.

By going through Maslow's hierarchy of needs, you can develop a better strategy that increases employee engagement. To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Management & Leadership or Employee Relations sections of our blog.


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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.