The evolving world of works has had many of us rethink our strategy and approach to work activities and operations. At a time when the concept was difficult to accept, many businesses resorted to employees working remotely, in order to keep their organisations profitable. Since the pandemic, other unpredictable factors have shown the need for businesses to think about the wellbeing of their workers, in a way that not only makes them feel appreciated, but also, motivates them to give and do more in their roles within the organisation.

Well, for an employee to be of good use in the office, their basic needs need to have been met. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a pyramid of the needs that motivate people. Individuals’ most basic needs lie at the base of the pyramid, and are physiological needs. The theory of hierarchy says that once the basic needs of individuals have been fulfilled, people move to their safety needs, social wellbeing, self-esteem and then ultimately their need for self-actualization.

In applying this theory to people management, HR managers and other professionals need to recognize that on a daily basis, people want to have a sense of fulfilment at work. Focusing on ways to keep employees fulfilled will not only gain their loyalty, but will boost their confidence and enable them to thrive better in the work environment. Here are ways to put the theory of the Employee’s Hierarchy of Needs into practice;

Physiological Needs:
An employee’s physiological needs at work are three things: autonomy (flexibility to tackle work their own way to achieve results); Relatedness (building bonds with others on similarities in the way people socialize, think, and behave); and Competence (being provided with the needed tools, to utilize their knowledge or skills and learn and grow).

Safety Needs:
At work, it is important to make employees feel that the physical safety of their resources and personal properties is valued and prioritized. Ensuring a safe workplace may include providing ergonomic office furniture that properly supports staff and reduces the risk of injury, along with securing the building to prevent potentially dangerous people from entering.

With the evolution of employee engagement and experience, it is now pertinent to promote emotional safety and support. Employees’ priorities have shifted from being able to keep their jobs to the benefits packages their employers can offer them. With a younger workforce placing their priority on work-life balance, safety to the modern worker means they have support for growing families, room for accidents & recovery, or can take a few extra days of vacation after a stressful, busy season.

Employers must begin to implement Health and safety initiatives, Life and Accident Insurance schemes, pensions & HMO schemes, paid family vacations and many more initiatives to make today’s employees feel supported, trusted, and cared for to reach the pyramid’s next stage.

Social Needs (Love & Belonging):
The love and belonging level of Maslow’s hierarchy is somewhat different in the workplace than it is in other areas of your life. If employees do not feel a sense of belonging, they may not be engaged at work or as motivated to succeed.

With many of us working from home this can be tricky, so employers can leverage on technology with tools like Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom so employees can socialise and collaborate with each other and make sure management is having regular meetings and catch-ups with their team. Don’t forget to take some time out to have fun as a team, such as virtual lunch/dinner, happy hour, quiz, gamifications and other virtual/ physical engagements should be encouraged. When employees feel like they belong and fit in within the workplace and team, it is easier to feel motivated to work hard and achieve results.

Esteem Needs:
At this stage in the workplace, it is important that employee’s believe that they are making valuable contributions to the higher organisational goals. Employees would feel they are growing, advancing and achieving results, and that those around them recognize those results. A 360-degree feedback and appraisal system can help to identify how best employees would like to be appreciated or celebrated. Acting on the feedback given will definitely meet the esteem needs of employees.

This final level translates to maximizing employees’ potential at work, ultimately making them feel that they are doing the best they can in their position, which helps them feel motivated to continue in their career path and succeed. By implementing regular talent planning meetings among managers and HR, having career discussions with employees and offering options such as fast-track management programmes, employers can fulfil employees’ self-actualisation needs while ensuring they have the expertise to fill future vacancies.

HR professionals must frequently assess the situation in the organisation; are employee’s needs being met? Of course, everyone looks forward to their pay check at the end of the month. Beyond that, there are needs that even their salaries, bonuses or even a raise cannot fill. As a business leader, investing in the overall happiness of your employees, can work wonders for your bottom line, while boosting satisfaction, motivation and all-round employee engagement, causing a positive increase in productivity and performance.

Written By:
Oluwatoyin Lawal
Human Resources Business Partner,
eTranzact International Plc