Maslow argued that individuals needed to satisfy basic needs such as warmth, safety and security in order to then realise their own personal growth and development. The same theory can be applied to how an organisation treats and engages with their staff.
For many people the basic needs of a job are that the salary allows them to pay the bills and live a lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Having a sense of financial independence is innate in almost all of us with very few people brave enough to run a risk and disregard monetary reward in favour of other factors. For many of us this is SURVIVAL.
Next comes a sense of stability and what is commonly known as job SECURITY. Given the volatile nature of the job market, most people fear the thought of losing their job and the prospect of having to join the unemployment line. Whilst the concept of a 'job for life' is all but dead, people generally crave security and structure in the workplace – and much like salary would put this above other aspects of a job.
Let's face it, whilst we may like to think we're motivated by other criteria, the two questions we often ask when reading job ads are "what's the pay?" and "is it a permanent position?". When these two things don't meet our needs the job instantly becomes less attractive to us.
Many larger employers have no issues satisfying those needs, especially when it comes to higher level positions. A big company recognises the importance of attracting the best talent. But what do you do once you have them? This is where Maslow's needs theory really comes into play. The next level in the needs hierarchy is a sense of BELONGING and holding trust and acceptance within a group. Organisational structures generally follow a team principle so creating a sense of camaraderie should just come naturally right? As the graph demonstrates, employees need to feel like they are part of something bigger but that they are also valued and their contribution is valuable to the business. This can only be achieved by instilling those beliefs from the top-down whilst also creating a sense of parity between staff and senior management.
This leads us on to the thing that really enables individuals to engage with their job and the company they work for – a sense that their contribution is IMPORTANT. This feeling of significance, especially within a large company is absolutely vital if a member of staff is going to feel any real affinity and advocacy towards their paymasters. If you make your staff feel as though they are integral to the company's values and goals then that's when you have reached the high engagement holy grail.
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