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Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow identified five levels of human needs that motivate behavior. As each lower-level need is satisfied, the next higher need becomes more important to a person. Reference the graphic below. The most basic needs are called physiological or survival needs. They include air, water, food, clothing.

Once a person is satisfied these needs, he or she will focus on safety, security and shelter. Once the person feels safe and secure, the focus changes once again to the next higher level of needs. The person will seek out relationships that provide affection, caring, and belonging. When these needs are met, the person will become interested in obtaining respect, status and recognition from others. With these higher-level needs all satisfactorily fulfilled, the person has the opportunity to work to become "self-actualized": to be all they can be...achieve their ultimate potential.

When we apply Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to the workplace I think we can agree that basic survival needs have been met. The most basic level of needs we find in the workplace might be thought of as the safety and security needs. This is very important to understand because if management does not provide resources (physical and psychosocial) to fulfill these needs, a culture of fear will likely exist. And, employees will be working to avoid negative consequences rather than working to obtain positive consequences. "Consequently" long-term productivity suffers.

In such a production-only culture, a natural conflict exists between working fast and working safe. If the employee doesn't work fast enough, job security is in jeopardy. In such instances, working fast will win the conflict. In a safe-production culture, working safe is the primary criteria for job security. The employee's job security is assured by working safe which is considered professional behavior.

Herzberg's Two-Factor Theory

Frederick Herzberg studied many workers and discovered that work satisfaction was determined primarily along two dimensions:

  1. Motivators: Factors associated with performance such as: recognition,
  2. achievement, responsibility, authority, and degree of autonomy.
  3. Hygiene Factors: Working conditions like: safety, pay, location; quality
  4. of supervision, and relationships.

Herzberg argued that job dissatisfaction was caused primarily by a lack of hygiene factors, while job satisfaction was caused by the presence of motivators.

The point is that, for a worker to be satisfied and motivated, both hygiene and motivator factors must be present.

Source: Steven J. Geigle, CSHM

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