Abraham Maslow created a psychological theory of human motivation in which he espoused that for high-level motivation such as self-actualization to occur, more fundamental levels must first occur. Maslow’s model is a five-tier sequential model, which is hierarchal starting with basic physiological needs, safety, and belonging, and then progressing to self-esteem and self-actualization.
How can a child learn or develop self-esteem without having their basic needs of food, shelter, and rest be taken care of? After that, they must feel safe so as to explore and learn.
These same principles apply to business. How can we expect our employees to think big, to work hard, to be inspired if their basic needs are not attended to? We cannot.
This article will parallel Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and apply them to business so that employees reach the highest levels of self-actualization and businesses achieve excellence and financial success.
|Maslow Need||Business Application||Business Example|
|Physiological||Safe work environment. Proper lighting. Equipment. Clean facilities. Air flow. Heat.||Google has bicycles and electric cars to get staff to meetings, gaming centers, organic gardens and eco-friendly furnishings. Google wants to make its employees’ lives easier, and it’s constantly searching for ways to improve the health, well-being and morale of its Googlers.|
|Safety||Treated with respect. Ability to take risks and not be harshly criticized or humiliated.||The fact that the FB’s CEO of one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing companies is meeting with entry-level employees says a lot about the way Zuckerberg does business. Rather than slotting people into roles based on age and experience, everyone’s ideas are valued in clear and obvious ways.|
|Belonging||Opportunity to provide input. Feeling heard. Sense of Community. Part of something bigger than self. Clear understanding of a value-centered mission.||Google provides employees with the sense of contributing to the worldwide population. Google employees positively impact society with the applications and technology on which they are working. These technologies would surely benefit the human race; for example, Google is developing new wearable technology – contact lenses with technology that could read the user’s blood glucose level, which is highly beneficial to diabetics.|
|Esteem||Empowerment. Public praise. Employee Recognition Programs. Respect and empathy. Understanding that each person’s job is contributing to the ultimate success of the company. Feeling valued and important.||Southwest also gives employees “permission” to go that extra mile to make customers happy, empowering them to do what they need to do to meet that vision.|
|Self-Actualization||Opportunity to think big, to be creative, to have a vision for the future, to reinvent, to provide direct input to the most senior executive leadership.||Google offers its employees one of the most innovative work environment cultures. Google cares so much about innovation that it has set forth nine principles of innovation. One of the principles encourages Google employees to spend 20% of their time pursuing innovative ideas about which they are passionate. Products and applications, such as Google News, Google Alerts and Google Maps Street View, have been born from this principle.|
Maslow’s model is a reminder that leaders and their businesses are best served when they serve their stakeholders and look at the world from the perspective of those stakeholders with an “outward mindset”, demonstrating authentic empathy, concern, and compassion while establishing, articulating, and modeling clear and measurable values, standards and expectations. An effort to understand the physiological, safety, belonging, and esteem needs of those stakeholders are essential to creating an environment where people trust and strive for and pursue excellence.
The best companies create a workforce that is treated with respect and dignity, where each person feels heard and empowered, where everyone understands their role and how it contributes to something bigger than themselves, where there is no fear to take risks, and where there is a feeling of ownership. Only when these needs are satisfied can people strive for self-actualization, which is when businesses become communities and excel.
About the Authors:
Suzy Jurist is the president of SJI, a NYC based woman-owned strategic creative agency. From Fortune 500 companies to non profits to start-up, SJI helps their clients grow, connect and maintain their audiences.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: https://sjiassociates.com/
Dr. Philip Levy is the Founder and President of PHL HP Consulting Group, a boutique management consulting and leadership development company dedicated to building and sustaining high performing companies and their leaders. He is also an Executive Coach, a private psychotherapist, and Managing Director of C2C, a Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Group for C-Level executives.
Contact: Philip@phlconsultinggroup.com Website: http://phlconsultinggroup.com