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Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory

The purpose of this paper is to analyze whether the needs of the employees, of HRD Department of the company, I used to work for, are relevant with the Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory or not. In order to analyze above purpose, I have concentrated on five employees, after dividing them into four groups by the level of their education, income, and responsibility. Five levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are : Physiological, safety and security, belonging and love, esteem and the self-actualization need.

Bernard L Rosenbaum has written in his book, How To Motivate Today’s Worker, that, “at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy are the physiological needs (food, water, etc), followed at the next level by safety or security needs (which includes both physical safety and protection against injury or financial hardships). The higher-order needs are—love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. (p. 6). Richard I.

Henderson states in his books, Influencing Employee Behavior At Work, that, lower-order needs must be satisfied before the individual is motivated (driven) to satisfy a higher-order need. (p. 4) Frank Goble, in the words of Abraham Maslow, wrote in his book, The Third Force,” It is unusual, not usual,” he says, ” that an act or a conscious wish have but one motivation. “. In other words the whole person is motivated, not just a part of him. (p. 36). In the book called The Gold and the Garbage in Management Theories and Prescriptions, James A.

Lee states that, Maslow’s theory stresses 1) that humans are wanting animals whose motivation will stem from unsatisfied needs, which means that satisfied needs are not motivators; and 2)that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy of importance, which results in shifts in motivation to the next higher level of needs as lower levels are satisfied. The author further adds, that according to this theory of needs hierarchy, for any given person, one class of needs will be more motivating than other. (p. 64, p. 66). The blue-collar employees in the department have the lowest level of education and are mostly from low- income families.

These employees carry the burden of large families, which often includes their unemployed/dependent family members such as retired parents, spouse, children and at times even their unemployed brothers or sisters. They join the company at a scale, which is little above the minimum wages fixed by the Government of India. While I was in charge of the Compensation & Benefit section of the department, I observed that apart from optimizing maximum from the company’s overtime policy, he (employee), often claimed excess amount than actually spend for the local conveyance on official work.

He often asked me for money. He made all attempts to take home any extra income he could to support his family. Analysis: This employee is at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy. His physiological needs are in a state of deprivation. His strive to satisfy these basic needs, becomes a motivational factor for him. According to a social Indicators Research on Testing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: national quality-of-life across time, there is a significant agreement between quality of life and Maslow’s prediction.

In other words, the quality of life for him is below standard, so he is most likely to be in the lowest level or one of the two lowest levels of the hierarchy. Thus, the needs of this employee are relevant to the Maslow’s Need hierarchy. The eligibility criteria for recruitment, in the company for this category requires a bachelor degree with vocational training certificate. Their basic salary is substantially above the minimum wages. He (employee) is from fairly well -to-do family, but has always worked eligible over time hours to earn that extra money.

However, I noticed that, two days in a week this employee requested permission to go home early, which he seldom does. After talking to him I learned that, he had joined part-time college to acquire a graduate degree in order to grow to next grade, which would give him much better salary and perks and thus he would be able to secure himself of the financial hardships. Analysis: This employee didn’t want that extra money from over time as much he wanted to study further for better secure future. In other words his physiological needs are satisfied, hence they no longer motivate him.

In the words of Rosenbaum (Book: How to motivate Today’s workers), “a satisfied need is no longer a motivator. ” The next higher level needs become stronger, which is to secure the first stage and perhaps the third stage. Therefore, Maslow’s theory applies to this employee. These employees have Masters Degree in management disciplines or an Engineering Degree from reputed institution. My colleague and myself are in this category. Apart from this job, she has a small beauty parlor that she manages. She is a recent divorcee.

I haven’t seen her showing much enthusiasm in her work. She needs more time to be with her emotionally upset family of two children, and widow mother and to improve her business. On the other hand, right from the day I joined, I had constantly worked towards recognition and accomplishments. There is this constant need in me, for experiencing a personal worth and competency and also a feeling of recognition in the eyes of others. Analysis: Inspite, of her seniority, she was not considered for promotion.

I observed that, she didn’t consider this promotion so important when compared with, the time she got to spend with her family in order to build that love and belongingness in the family. She has fulfilled her first two stages of needs and thus this third need of belonging and love motivates her. Maslow’s theory characterizes her between the security and belonging level of need. I got promoted, which meant a lot to me. I had worked very hard to perform my best. Chris Argyris mentions in his book: Integrating the Individual and the Organization, that “to manifest self-esteem is to value one’s self.

Employees motivated by esteem are more involved in their own and other departmental activities, which will increase the employee’s sense of, and commitment to, the total organization. ” I categorize myself in the esteem stage of Maslow’s hierarchy theory. Director of Human Resource has more than 30yrs of experience behind him. While most people of his age have retired, he still enjoys working with a difference. He is working towards, what he is capable of becoming. Today, money and status are definitely not the reasons for his work.

He is constantly working for the prosperity of the company. Which accordingly to him, are directed towards contribution to the society, in terms of more jobs, better standard of living for employees, and better economy. Analysis: Frank Noble wrote in his book, The Third Force that ” Maslow calls self -actualization – the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything that one is capable of becoming. ” James A. Lee further characterizes self-actualizing persons as being, spontaneous, creative, identify with mankind, autonomous, realistic and unprejudiced.

The director ‘s efforts are in line with Maslow’s need of self-actualization. Based on the above analysis, I find that the needs of individual employees of the HRD department, in the four different categories are very much in line with Maslow’s Need Hierarchy Theory. Maslow points out that “the hierarchy is dynamic; the dominant need is always shifting. ” He notes that a satisfied need no longer motivates. In the Maslow’s own words, “(the theory) seems, for most people to have a direct personal, subjective plausibility. And yet it still lacks experimental verification and support.

I have not yet been able to think of a good way to put it to the best…. ” In my opinion, this theory is very much applicable and also reliable, however, the best person to know whether Maslow’s theory of Hierarchy of Needs is applicable or not is the individual himself or herself. Maslow was one of the first people to be associated with the humanistic, as opposed to a task-based, approach to management. As people have increasingly come to be appreciated as a key resource in successful companies, Maslow’s model has remained a valuable management concept.

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