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Human Needs And Business Management

Jan 13, 2008
Abraham Maslow, an eminent psychologist, studied human behavior for many years and developed a well-known equilateral triangle depicting a series of needs that are necessary for successful human interaction in one's home, work and society.

These needs begin at the base of the triangle with the most basic of human physiological requirements for survival such as food, water and sleep and then move upward to the apex of the triangle which represents the achievement of satisfaction in life which he refers to as self-actualization.

Between the physiological need and the desire for self-actualization are three other needs identified as safety, belonging and esteem.

Small businesses, large corporations and every manager should be cognizant of Maslow's theory and make decisions that fulfill some aspect of these needs if they want to develop loyal, competent and satisfied employees.

There are a myriad of practical applications for Maslow's hierarchy of needs that can be incorporated into business practices. Assuming that the basic survival needs are fulfilled in the work place, here are are a few suggestions. Many of these suggestions are already incorporated into the life of businesses and the result is increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Interestingly, the application of these principles can apply to a multi-national conglomerate or a mom and pop business operation that employs just a few.

Safety needs encompass the broad desire to feel secure in one's environment. Businesses should insure that there are plans and policies in effect to deal with the broad range of disasters that might occur such as fire, flood, hurricane, tornado or even a mishap that might occur at work. Employees should be well briefed on what to do in the event of an emergency and management should demonstrate their concern. Are fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and emergency telephone numbers available? Other concerns might be to insure that adequate lighting is available in parking areas so that employees who arrive early or leave late feel safe.

Belonging needs provide a sense of family and allow employees to feel like they are part of a team. Hats, shirts or other personal accouterments are often used to promote a sense of group as well personal identity. Simple things like remembering an employee's birthday or anniversary with a greeting or even a card instill a sense of well being and create an environment where individual productivity is increased because they feel appreciated.

Esteem needs provide a sense of achievement and satisfaction to an employee. An employee of the month, a small certificate of appreciation, a public thank-you for a job well done all promote a positive work environment.

This is just a sampling of the many ways that business managers can use the psychology of human behavior to provide a sense of well-being for those in the work environment. Every manager or leader should be familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and incorporate those elements into the workplace.
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