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What employees need?
Abraham Maslow (1943) categorized a person’s needs into five levels in a pyramid which is known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. In this hierarchy of needs model from bottom to the top people will progress to seek to satisfy physiologic needs which are the most fundamental needs such as having food and drink, safety needs such physical safety, love and belongingness, self-esteem and self-actualization in the top of the pyramid. Once the lower level needs are satisfied, people will move the needs to the next higher class need. In a work environment, the model also applies as there is also hierarchy of needs in the work place. In the lowest level in term of satisfying the physiological needs in the work environment, most probably getting a job to afford the necessities could be the priority of the person. Soon after getting a job, safety needs in the work place could take the form of the need to be free of the fear of deprivation of the current work (McConnell 2004, p90). And the love needs could take the form of the need to be accepted by other colleagues as part of the group. Following the love needs, as when an employee proceeds to acquire the self-esteem, the desire to be recognized for the work done could be a sign of demand for the self-esteem. And when a person proceed to the ultimate need, self-realization, he or she would strive to achieve a highly personal dream on his or her own way even in cost of giving up the current apparently successful conventional career (McConnell 2004, p81), but there is only a small percentage of people will reach the ultimate level of the pyramid. And according to Maslow (1943)’s Hierarchy of needs model, during the need progression process, only satisfying the current need leads to motivation.
Figure 2.0 Maslow model and Herzberg model comparison (source: Ades 1992, p146)
Another similar need hierarchy approach similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs postulated by Frederick Herzberg (1969) but focusing on relating needs to motivation in a work setting is the theory of motivation-hygiene or two-factor theory as illustrated in the figure above. In this theory, Herzberg proposed that there are two major factors in the work place: hygiene factors and motivators. Hygiene factors are extrinsic factors such as job security, salary and benefits, though they would not provide positive satisfaction their absence would arouse dissatisfaction; Motivators such as responsibility and work recognition in contrast are intrinsic factors in the job itself and they would generate positive satisfaction but their absence would not lead to further dissatisfaction. This theory suggests that companies should focus on the job content related factors as the center motivators while at the same time avoid the absence of the hygiene factors.