Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory in the year 1943 (Maslow, 1954). In his book “Motivation and personality,” Maslow argued that human beings are motivated to satisfy essential needs such as food and water before moving to needs that are more complex in life (Maslow,1954). The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model is represented in a triangle where basic needs are placed at the bottom while complex needs are placed at the top (Maslow, 1954).

Five levels of hierarchy of needs

Physiological needs: This constitutes mostly of basic needs that we (human beings) need for survival (Maslow, 1954). Need for water, food, air, warmth, and even sleep are examples in this case. Security needs include need for safety and security; they are important but cannot be compared to physiological needs (Charnov and Montana, 2008). Some of the examples in this level include job security, financial security, health and well-being, and safe neighborhoods.

Social needs include the need for belonging, affection, love, friendship and intimacy (Maslow, 1954). Maslow considered them less basic than the first two. Friends (social life) and relatives help fulfill these needs. Esteem needs become a necessity once the first three needs (psychological, security, and social needs) are met. Essentials in this level include need for self-esteem, self-assurance, social recognition and accomplishments (Charnov and Montana, 2008). Lastly, in self-actualizing needs which is the highest, an individual concentrates on personal development, becomes less concerned with opinions of others, and is interested in maximizing his/ her potential (Maslow, 1954).

What motivates people in each level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?

The primary factor that motivates human beings to move to the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the craving (Charnov and Montana, 2008). After an individual satisfies psychological needs, he/ she crave to have a job, safety, financial security, and stable health (wellbeing) (Maslow, 1954).

Those in security level of needs crave for care, love, closeness, sense of and belonging, all which are acquired from friends and relatives (Charnov and Montana, 2008). Moreover, this craving make individual to work on satisfying social needs once they have satisfied security needs (Maslow, 1954). Those within social needs are motivated to satisfy these needs and are driven by craving for things in the higher level, which cannot be satisfied until social needs are met. People in the esteem needs level are motivated to satisfy the needs of self-confidence, self-esteem and accomplishments (Maslow, 1954). An individual in self-actualization stage becomes motivated to maximize his/ her potential and tends to be motivated to acquire truth, justice, wisdom, and meaning in life (Charnov and Montana, 2008).

Motivation in the work place

In order to satisfy Physiological needs at the work place, the management should allow employees to have breaks (such as lunch breaks) so that they can eat food and drink water. At safety and security needs level, the work environment should provide basic security by ensuring all security and safety measures are adhered to. This way, employees will not feel safe.

At the social needs level, the management should create a feeling of acceptance, and belonging by encouraging team building while at the esteem needs level, a managers should appreciate ones talent, unique achievement, assign workers meaningful tasks, and give status/incentives to make employees feel recognized (Koontz and Weihrich, 2011).

In order to empower individuals who are in the self-actualizing stage at the work place, the management should offer such individuals challenging assignments, which requires creativity; this will enable them to meet their long-term goals (Koontz and Weihrich, 2011).

Other contemporary model similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

One model that is similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the ERG theory of motivation (Koontz and Weihrich, 2011). It was dubbed ERG (Existence, Relatedness, and Growth) and was to support Maslow’s motivation theory since it had some weakness.

In trying to correct the problem, ERG model reduced the number of levels to three (Koontz and Weihrich, 2011). The initials E,R, and G were used to represent three levels of needs; E (Existence) refers to people’s concern with basic material existence motivations, R (Relatedness) refers to motivations people have for maintaining interpersonal relationships, while G (Growth) refers to an intrinsic desire for personal development (Charnov and Montana, 2008). The ERG theory improved Maslow’s theory of hierarchy in the following ways.

First, ERG model explain needs in terms of preferences (Koontz and Weihrich, 2011). An individual who lacks food but emphasizes on the importance of security is a good example in this case. Secondly, the ERG model recognizes that if a “superior-order” need is not attained, a person may move back (to a lower need) to increase satisfaction of a lower- order, which may appear easier to satisfy (frustration-regression principle) (Charnov and Montana, 2008).


In conclusion, managers should to understand that each employ needs to satisfy several needs simultaneously and therefore any form of leadership/ management that put emphasis on satisfying one need at a time, does not motivate individuals at the work place effectively. At the work place, if employees are not provided opportunities to develop, they may not satisfy all needs. For instance, lack of an opportunity or failure to satisfy social needs may increase the motivation to acquire more money (wealth) (Charnov and Montana, 2008). Thus, a good manager is one who creates a favorable work environment.

Reference List

Charnov, B. & Montana, P. (2008). Motivation: Theory and Practice. New York: Barron’s Education series.

Koontz, H. & Weihrich. (2011). Essentials of management. New York: McGraw-hill Education.

Maslow, A. M. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper publishers.

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