The following is a guest post provided by our friends at FutureFuel
Employee engagement isn’t just a trendy phrase for your next company meeting. When your employees feel connected and engaged with the corporate mission, you will see a noticeable boost in productivity and loyalty.
There is no blanket strategy for increasing engagement levels because every workplace has a different culture to it. However, you can utilize the psychological concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to develop an employee engagement strategy that will work for your corporate environment.
What is the Hierarchy of Needs?
Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a pretty straightforward concept that is generally accepted in the world of psychology. He believed that humans have five basic needs that must be fulfilled in order to stay happy and motivated, and he said that each of these needs has a place in a pyramid-style hierarchy.
Basic needs at the bottom of this pyramid must be taken care of first, and the higher-level needs can be addressed afterward.
According to Maslow, the needs must be addressed in the following order:
- Physiological needs like food, water, and shelter
- Safety and security
- Relationships and belonging
- Status and respect
- Self-actualization or personal growth
This hierarchy of needs can easily translate to the needs of an employee in terms of engagement.
Hierarchy of Engagement
Using Maslow’s pyramid as a method of better understanding employee engagement can be helpful for developing a strategy to keep everyone feeling fulfilled when they come to work.
To show how this is accomplished, this section will outline each need and demonstrate how it can be applied to the workplace.
This is the base of the pyramid, and it is what everything else must be built upon. In daily life, this is the ability to satisfy physiological needs like hunger, thirst, and sleep.
In the workplace, this translates more specifically to wages. At the base level of the engagement hierarchy, people are most concerned about their ability to earn a living. As much as a job should be about more than money, everyone needs money to survive in today’s world.
After physiological needs are able to be consistently met, the next step up is safety. This is the ability to accumulate resources, maintain good health, and feel secure in day-to-day life.
In terms of engagement, the employees will be concerned about job security and their ability to perform well.
When security is no longer an issue, the next step toward fulfillment includes meaningful relationships and connection to others.
At this part of the hierarchy, employees are happiest when they feel like they’re part of a team that’s working together toward a common goal.
Status and Recognition Needs
Not everyone craves the spotlight, but everyone wants to feel like his or her contributions are valued.
In the workplace, this step of the hierarchy often translates to recognizing employees for their individual achievements. These needs can also be met by asking for and implementing feedback from individual workers.
At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization. Here is where humans are able to explore their true potential and achieve personal growth.
At work, employees at the top of the pyramid are often seen as leaders by their peers. These people are happy to come to work because they feel like they’re making a difference, and their enthusiasm tends to be infectious.
Applying the Hierarchy
Understanding this hierarchy in the context of the workplace can help your business develop better engagement strategies.
One way to ensure that every employee is able to reach the higher levels of this pyramid is by managing compensation. Ensure that employees are able to earn well. Offer incentives, promotions, and raises as a way of helping workers meet the two most basic levels of needs.
Creating a culture that appeals to the higher levels of the hierarchy will largely depend on the industry your company is in. However, there are some basic ideas you can implement to help employees work their way up to self-actualization.
A good starting point is to regularly ask for feedback from everyone. It can be anonymous or not, depending on what is the most viable option for your particular corporate culture. Asking for opinions on team building events, new projects, and how best to recognize employee contributions can be very eye-opening.
By asking for this feedback and incorporating it into your workplace culture, you will show workers that they are being valued. You will be able to foster better relationships between employees because you will have a better understanding of what appeals to them.
Employee Engagement Is Simpler Than You Might Think
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs applies to everyday life, but it is also an excellent model for how your employees engage in the workplace as well.
Remember that the most basic of needs must be fulfilled first in the form of compensation and job security. Once employees feel secure in their positions, they will start to look for connections, respect, and a sense of higher purpose.
It may take a bit of trial and error to learn the best ways to implement this approach in your corporate culture, but it is well worth the effort. You will see noticeable increases in happiness, productivity, and loyalty when you begin to successfully apply the hierarchy of needs to a workplace setting.