As someone who analyzes and coaches to behaviors, the work of Abraham Maslow is near and dear to my heart. As a humanistic psychologist, Maslow believed that all people have an inate desire to achieve their highest potential. I believe, too, that people want to be successful and that we as leaders have an obligation to help others to fulfill their needs in order to achieve their potential. I created the Hierarchy of Employee Needs based on Maslow’s work. Here’s how to interpret the Hierarchy of Employee Needs and why it is important for leaders.
Our employees have three levels of needs. Their first level of needs that must be met is their PHYSICAL NEEDS. Employees have a need to be in an environment that is clean, safe and comfortable. Once employees’ physical needs are met, leaders must help them to meet their MENTAL NEEDS. Employees’ mental needs include the need for information, knowledge, coaching and career pathing so that they can feel competent speaking with customers and so they can feel a sense of growth and accomplishment. The next level of needs is our employees’ EMOTIONAL NEEDS. At this level, employees have a need to feel respected, appreciated, treated fairly and they must also feel a sense of belonging within your organization.
These three levels of needs make up an employee’s overall MORALE. If you are looking to improve someone’s morale, it is important to dig into which level of their needs is not being met. Too often companies confuse raising MORALE with MOTIVATING their employees. MORALE is the longer term condition that is based on whether their needs are met, while MOTIVATION is the short term condition that is based on whether additional wants are provided to the employees- not needs. WANTS include things like parties, contests, etc.
It is critical that we meet our employees’ needs first- this will raise the morale in your organization. Once you have high morale, then you can focus on the “extras”- the wants. This will then boost your morale to an even higher level through short term motivation.
Do you have a plan to focus on your organization’s Hierarchy of Employee Needs?
Where is your focus? Is your focus on meeting your employees’ needs?