Maslow’s Need Hierarchy

Abraham Harold Maslow  (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970)

Abraham Harold Maslow
(April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970)

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory
In the year 1943 a Psychologist Maslow suggested his Theory of Human Motivation. His theory is one popular and extensively cited theory of human motivation. Maslow’s theory is based on Hierarchy of Human Needs. According to Maslow, human behavior is related to his needs. It is adjusted as per the nature of needs to be satisfied. In hierarchy of needs theory of motivation, Maslow identified five types / sets of human need arranged in a hierarchy of their importance and priority. He concluded that when one set of needs is satisfied, it ceases to be a motivating factor. Thereafter, the next set of needs in the hierarchy order takes its place. These needs in hierarchy can be compared to a pyramid. At the lowest level, there will be first set of needs which can be described as basic needs or Physiological needs and are universal in character. This will be followed by other sets of needs.

Abraham Maslow organized five major types of human needs into a hierarchy, as shown in Figure. The need hierarchy illustrates Maslow’s conception of people satisfying their needs in a specified order, from bottom to top. The needs, in ascending order, are:

=> Physiological needs
=> Safety needs
=> Love belonging
=> Self-Esteem
=> Self-actualization

Physiological Needs : The Physiological needs are the basic needs for sustaining the human life. These needs include food, clothing, shelter, rest, water, air, sleep and sexual satisfaction. These basic human needs (also called as biological needs) lie at the lowest level in the hierarchy of needs as they have priority over all other needs. These needs cannot be postponed for long time. Unless and until these basic physiological needs are satisfied to the required extent, other needs do not motivate an person/employee. A hungry person, for example, is just not in a position to think of anything else except his hunger or food. According to Maslow, ‘man lives by bread alone,’ when there is no bread. The management attempts to meet such physiological needs through payment of fair wages.
Security / Safety Needs : These are the needs connected with psychological fear of loss of job, property, natural calamities or hazards, etc. An employee wants and needs protection from such types of fear. He prefers adequate safety and security in this regard i.e. protection from physical danger, security of job, pension at old age, insurance coverage for life, etc. The safety needs come after meeting the physiological needs. Such physiological needs lose their motivational potential when they are satisfied. As a result, safety needs replaces them. They begin to manifest themselves and dominate the human behavior. Safety needs act as motivational forces only if they are unsatisfied.

Social Needs/Love belonging : An employee is a human being is rightly treated as social animal. He desires or likes to stay in group. Human being feels that he should belong to one or the other group and the member of the group should accept him with the love and affection. Every human being desires to be affiliated to such groups. This is treated as basic social need of an individual. He also feels that he should be loved by the other persons. He needs friends and interaction with his friends and superiors of the group such as fellow employees or his superiors. Social needs occupy third position in the hierarchy of needs.

Esteem Needs : This category of needs include the need to be respected by others, need to be appreciated by others, need to have the power and finally prestigious position. Once the previous needs are satisfied, a human being feels to be held in esteem both by himself and also by others. Thus, esteem needs are two fold in nature. Self esteem needs include those for self confidence, self-respect, competence, etc. The second groups of esteem needs are those related to one’s status, reputation, recognition and appreciation by others. This is a type of personal ego which needs to be satisfied. The Organisation can satisfy this need (ego) by giving recognition to the good work of employees in organisation. Esteem needs do not assume the motivational properties unless the previous needs are satisfied.

“Recognition is like a small drop of oil in the machinery of business. It just makes things run a little smoother.” -– Obert Tanner

Self-actualization Needs : This is the highest among the needs in the hierarchy of needs advocated by Abraham Maslow. Self actualization is the desire to become what one is capable of becoming. It is the ‘growth’ need. A worker must work efficiently if he is to be ultimately happy. Here, a person feels that he should accomplish something in his life. Human want to utilise his potentials to the maximum extent and desires to become what one is capable of becoming. A person desires to have challenges and achieves something special in his life or in the area of his specialization. Though every one is capable of self-actualization, many do not reach this stage. This need is fully satisfied rarely.

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