IntroductionMotivation is the key to increasing performance, being an easier way to stimulate productivity than improvement in workers’ qualifications.
Thus a company should never forgo an opportunity to boost the motivation of its employees using a wide variety of tools available for this purpose, including monetary and non-monetary stimuli. To make efficient use of these techniques, however, the management needs to get insights into the motives of the employees. Exploration of scientific theories on that issue can be a good place to start, and Maslow’s Hiearchy of Needs is one of the most relevant to the problem. This paper will focus on the application of Maslow’s model to improve the effectiveness of motivation in a fictitious organization named Econom.
1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of NeedsThe basic premise of Maslow’s model is that human needs are in fact a hierarchy that is structured along the lines of greater or lesser importance. A human being needs first of all to satisfy his or her most basic needs; until these are satisfied, needs located in the ‘upper’ levels do not matter so much. However, as the lower level is ‘covered’, a person reveals more complex needs that apply to the next tier.
Once these are satisfied, one can move up again, and so the way continues until a person succeeds in gratifying the most top-level need – transcendence and self-actualization.It is interesting to review the order of needs as developed by Abraham Maslow who did a lot of research into human motivation. At the very bottom are the physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, bodily comforts and the like. The next important is the need for safety, expressed in the need to feel absence of danger.
When these basic needs are satisfied, the next step is the need for belongingness and love. A human has the inner drive to be accepted, to connect with others. After the satisfaction of the need for love and belongingness, the next step is the need for esteem: one strives “to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition” (Huitt, 2004). Maslow termed all of these four needs ‘deficiency’, or D-needs (Wikipedia).
The next tier in the hierarchy includes low-level growth needs. The need for cognitive growth refers to the desire for knowledge and understanding, while the aesthetic need encompasses the drive for “symmetry, order, and beauty” (Huitt, 2004). At the very top of the pyramid are the self-actualization and self-transcendence. The first includes “desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially” (Maslow, 2000).
Self-transcendence, often described as spiritual needs, refers to so-called ‘peak experiences’ that give one a springboard for intellectual and spiritual growth and fulfillment.2. Using Maslow’s Model to Explain the Situation at EconomLet us assume that Econom has the following three types of employees: salespeople, production workers, and administrative staff. All these categories have common needs and presumably exhibit all needs listed in Maslow’s hierarchy.
At the same time, they are at different stages of the realization of these needs.All employees, hopefully, have their basic needs physiological needs satisfied since they all earn enough to provide food and shelter for themselves. Here one is not taking into consideration the type of housing each may occupy. It can be claimed that ownership of a nice house will cover needs of a higher ranking, such as aesthetic wants.
Speaking of safety needs, here one can argue that on these employees can be in different situations. Thus, administrative staff will most probably have no problem with safety staying in the office all day. In contrast, production workers are exposed to a professional environment in which work-related injuries can be everyday reality. Similarly, salespeople who spend a great part of their working day on the road, are at a greater risk of road accidents than other staff members.
The danger of walking through different kinds of neighbourhoods should not be neglected either.Belongingness and love will be realized in the workplace proportionately to rapport in relations with other employees and will hardly be dependent on the area of employment. On the other hand, realization of the need to esteem is probably more difficult for office workers who seldom get credit for their results, while production workers and salespeople are often praised and rewarded for their outstanding achievements.As for aesthetic needs, here production workers will most probably face a problem since factory facilities usually lack aesthetic looks, being oriented for efficiency rather than nicety.
The appearance of the office will determine the level of aesthetic satisfaction in administrative staff, and the salespeople will depend for aesthetic stimulation on the quality of areas they visit on their trips. The satisfaction of cognitive needs can be hampered both for office employees and production workers routine occupations that offer little variety in tasks and do not require scope of qualifications.Self-actualization and self-transcendence will depend on the individual circumstances of each employee. A person with significant intellectual potential who failed to obtain a college education for some reason and is now stuck in a low-level administrative position ill find little match between one’s abilities and the window of opportunities for self-actualisation.
In contrast, someone with similar background but more modest abilities and ambitions will see full realisation of one’s possibilities.3. Strategies for Increasing Efficiency of MotivationDrawing on Maslow’s ideas, Econom’s management has to start from the bottom of the pyramid. Since we agreed that physiological needs are for the most part satisfied, it is really imperative to cover first the safety needs.
The management needs to improve safety of plant operations so that workers can pay more attention to improvement in productivity and less to dodging machinery. One way to increase the feeling of safety is to offer a large compensation as supplemental insurance in case of work-related injuries. The same may apply to salespeople who get hurt on their trips.Belongingness and love, as stated above, depends largely on the individual situation.
However, the company management can come up with efficient and inexpensive ways to demonstrate care for workers such as sending a postcard on holidays, congratulating on birthday and anniversaries, making small gifts, etc. To aid employees lacking esteem, the administration can develop a way to award or recognize, for instance, office staff that worked glitch-free for a long period of time. These are the most important strategies since they will cover basic needs of the employees.Once these steps are realized, the management can proceed to satisfy needs of a higher level.
Most bosses will underestimate the importance of attractive look in offices and workshops, yet improvements in this area are likely to boost productivity, even if the effect wears out after some time. Working in a nice-looking place can subconsciously act as a deterrent against leaving. For instance, an employee interviewing with another company will find it more difficult to accept their job offer if their premises looks repellent compared to his/her present workplace. The administration has to look carefully into possible strategies at job enrichment that will increase the scope of activities for those employees who are stuck in dull jobs with little intellectual challenge.
Giving them additional responsibilities can stimulate their cognitive function and satisfy the need to know and understand.Finally, Econom’s managers need to be attentive to each individual situation and try to create conditions that will bring out the potential of each specific employee. They should apply effort to recognising the abilities of each employee and to re-think the scope of occupational responsibilities. To do so, the management will probably have to do an ‘audit’ of skills, abilities and current tasks of each employee, as well as desires and needs.
If a serious discrepancy is found between what the employee wants or is able to do and current duties, the management can think of a way to stimulate the performance of this person through enhancing his or her qualifications or promotionConclusionIn conclusion, application of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can improve understanding of motivation and assist in development of strategies for increasing employee commitment. This theory allows managers to set priorities in motivation improvement and to work out well-grounded strategies. Econom can take appropriate action, relying on differentiated strategies for different employee categories.References Huitt, W.
(2004). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University.
Retrieved November 15, 2005 from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/regsys/maslow.html.
;Maslow, A. H. (2000, August). A Theory of Human Motivation (1943).
Originally Published in Psychological Review, 50, 370-396. Retrieved November 15, 2005 from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Maslow/motivation.
htm.;Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Wikipedia. Retrieved November 15, 2005 from http://en.
wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs.Appendix 1;Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs;From: Huitt, W. (2004).
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved November 15, 2005 from, http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/regsys/maslow.html.