When studying motivation, researchers refer to the human needs, synthetized by Maslow in his “pyramid of needs”. According to Maslow, (in Lauby, 2005), people and employees inclusively, need to satisfy the following set of needs: psychological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self – actualization. Maslow has built the pyramid of needs to indicate the hierarchical levels of needs that a person can reach, from the most basic to the highest, specifying how s/he comes to realize that s/he needs to evolve on this hierarchy of needs.
In satisfying these needs, there must be known the fact that this is a gradual process, and only after satisfying a certain need (in the presented order), will people strive for achieving the following need from the pyramid of needs. In other words, only after a person assures his/her psychological needs will s/he be thinking to reach safety. When safety need is assured, the person will feel the need of feeling like belonging to a group, with whom s/he identifies. After reaching this goal s/he will be looking for esteem, respect, appreciation and recognition from the others and once this is also obtained, the person will search for self – actualization, and this, according to Maslow, is the last step in humans’ needs (1954).
According to Lauby’s (2005) thinking, employees are more motivated as they are evolving on the pyramid of needs and as they reach higher, their focus change from the economic motives of good salary and a safe work place, to high – order needs, as McConnell defines them, which include job satisfaction or the recognition and appreciation for the work performed (2011).
Creating needs is what motivate people in each level of Maslow hierarchy. Acknowledging them determines people to work, overcome their condition and satisfy the needs from a level of the hierarchy where the individual is situated. Once these needs are satisfied, other needs are identified, which again, must be met and this implies entering a new level on the hierarchy of needs. In addition to creating the needs and acknowledging them, motivating people to achieve these needs can be done also through rewards or benefits.
Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, employees can be motivated to work harder, to be more conscious and more accountable of their responsibilities. Understanding the functions of this human motivation theory, managers can promote employees to higher level in organizations, by motivating them with financial compensations, but also with showing respect and appreciation for their work. Like this, the person acknowledges his/her need of being appreciated and respected for his/her work and also the need for the financial compensation and is prepared to move up in the hierarchy of needs, but also on a higher level within the organization.
Besides Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are other models that explain human motivation, such as theory Y. Theory Y states that work can be as natural as play and that people can be autonomous, creative and able to meet the organizational goals, if committed to them and they are driven by self – fulfillment needs in becoming committed to their job. Employees are worthy of respect, and are intrinsically motivated to perform their job properly. This theory aligns the personal needs with the organizational objectives and sets the employee in a position where searching for self – actualization and the esteem and appreciation are permanent concern, therefore, searching to permanently improve their work for meeting these higher – level needs (McGregor, 1960).
Lauby, S., J. (2005) Motivating employees: career planning & talent management. Fort ASTD Press: Lauderdale.
Maslow A. (1954) Motivation and human personality. Harper & Row.
McConnell, C. (2011) The effective health care supervisor. Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC. Burlington: Ontario and London.
McGregor D (1960) The human side of the enterprise. Harper & Row.