Basics to Motivating People

Humans have a basic need to be recognized. Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist who studied human needs and author of The Theory of Motivation, wrote

“Humans need to be recognized for work well done, opportunities for accomplishment, achievement, and independence.”

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, human beings have five different types of needs:

  • Biological and Physiological Needs such as water and food
  • Safety Needs like shelter
  • Love Needs such as belonging and acceptance
  • Esteem Needs which include respect, rewards, and recognition
  • Self-Actualization Needs which include personal challenge and advancement

The needs build on each other in a pyramid-like fashion. Each need must be satisfied fully before the next set of needs can be attained. For example, all Biological and Physiological Needs – food and water – must be met before an individual will seek out shelter. Safety Needs, such as shelter and security, must be met before an individual will seek out love from another person and so forth.

The basic human needs exist at work. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Organizational Pyramid, pictured below, illustrates how basic human needs are expressed in the workplace.
The five different types of Organizational Needs include:

  • Compensation and Benefits includes fair pay, health insurance, and retirement
  • Location and Working Conditions includes the commute, available resources, and working environment
  • Acceptance and Involvement includes a feeling of belonging
  • Recognition includes being acknowledged for a job well done
  • Advancement and Growth includes the opportunity to grow and be challenged

Below is a picture of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Organizational Pyramid.

Rewarding employees for their contributions and achievements directly satisfies their need for esteem, self-respect, and respect for others.

Highly successful people have satisfied their basic human needs, making them stronger employees. When organizations strive to meet the needs of their employees, their recognition programs yield better results, including an increase in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and profitability. 

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