Maslow’s Hierarchy Can Serve as the Basis for Workplace Culture
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been around a long time. It describes the basic needs of individuals to be happy and fulfilled in life. It can also be used to describe the expectations of employees from their work experience.
Millennials are like no generation before them. They look to meet their own needs first before contributing to meeting those of an employer. Indeed, they are not likely to stay with a job unless their basic needs are met and self-actualization is nourished.
We assume the basic needs are met in most job experiences. Maslow’s hierarchy holds that physiological needs are the foundation for all other needs. This means the need for food, water, and shelter are basic to sustain life. Safety and security come next. The employment experience must provide a sufficient income and cover basic health needs for employees to achieve higher levels of satisfaction.
It is important to point out, unlike previous generations, the pursuit of wealth is not the driving force in the workplace. Instead, Millennials look for fulfilling experiences, opportunities for growth and development, satisfying work-team engagement, and a social networking environment that enhances the work experience.
Millennials spend more time at work than previous generations, in part because of the social aspect of jobs and the workplace. Working closely in teams draws Millennials closer together. Social ties lead to emotional experiences and the opportunity to build relationships. They inform personal experiences and contribute to a satisfying work experience.
Millennials are more likely to meet their mate at work than previous generations, and they are open to workplace dating experiences. Employers need to support Millennials’ need for a sense of connection from work. This is essential to climbing the ladder to the next level of needs.
Millennials do not see the potential red flags of having personal relationships in the workplace. They do not stop and think that one participant or another may evaluate job performance of the other down the road. What happens if the dating relationship goes south? Well, Millennials do not think that far in advance because they live in the here and now.
The top two levels of the ladder are the trickiest. Unless the three basic needs are met first, Millennials are not likely to achieve self-esteem from the job. They need to be respected by their peers, gain confidence on the job, and achieve success as they know it. Employers should target meeting these needs to have satisfied employees. If they are not met, then Millennials may leave their job and go on to another employer that might satisfy these higher-level needs.
Unlike previous generations, Millennials do not feel a loyalty to their employer above all else. Their loyalty is to themselves and satisfying their own needs from their workplace experiences. They are more likely to become loyal to their employer if their own needs are met first.
Millennials are fueled by passion for whatever they do. They are driven at work by passion for social causes – i.e., sustainability. They believe in what they do and want to work with like-minded individuals.
They thirst for a sense of belonging from their work experiences. A fulfilling a work experience fosters self-esteem and creates a pathway to self-actualization.
Maslow’s Hierarchy should be ingrained in the work culture. Employers must realize that Millennials are a different breed than previous generations. They have grown up with the Internet providing their window to the world. They expect the workplace experience to be engaging and provide time for social networking.
Millennials place purpose ahead of profits. They value social entrepreneurship. They ask: What does the employer stand for? What is their purpose in meeting the needs of stakeholders? How can this contribute to my need for meaning and maximizing my inner potential? These are questions Millennials ask before determining whether self-actualization is a realistic expectation from the job.