Abraham Maslow, in his paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’, developed a psychological theory of motivation, proposing that for high-level esteem and self-actualization, certain fundamental human needs must first be fulfilled. 

In short, Maslow’s theory argues that for individuals to reach their full potential, their basic human needs must be addressed. 

His hierarchical model divides these needs into five major categories which are mentioned below:

  • Physiological Needs
  • Safety
  • Belonging and love
  • Esteem
  • Self-Actualization.  

These same principles can also be applied to business models, where for employees to grow and reach their highest potential, their basic needs must be ‘Prioritized’. We have compiled below how ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’ is relevant for companies to achieve high excellence and financial success. 

How to Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to the Workplace?

According to the Job Satisfaction Report 2019 published by The Conference Board, only 54% of U.S. workers are satisfied with their employment. As a result, the productivity of organizations is hampered. Therefore, it becomes essential for companies to strive for a higher employee satisfaction rate by targeting the necessary needs of workers and fulfilling them in the best way possible.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs focuses on identifying the basic human needs and desires which are necessary to be motivated and productive. It can also become a simple, yet powerful tool, to understand and manage the workforce more efficiently.

1. Physiological Needs

According to Maslow’s Theory, physiological needs are those which are more primitive and necessary for survival such as air, water, food, shelter, and sex. These first-order needs must be met continuously for individuals to be satisfied.

In its business application, employees’ physiological needs are concerned with adequate wages, stable income, a safe work environment, and clean facilities. The companies should make their employees feel comfortable by continually searching for ways to improve their health, well-being, and morale. 

2. Safety

The level immediately above physiological needs is safety, where a person is looking for security in terms of employment, health, resources, and property. 


According to the Harvard Business Review, only 46% of employees have ‘a great deal of trust’ in their bosses. In organizations, employees seek protection through fair work practices, pension, compensation, and a stable working environment. This places an obligation on managers to act humanely while implementing difficult organizational decisions.

3. Belonging

Once these basic needs are satisfied, people also need to have a sense of belongingness in the community through friendship, family, intimacy, and interpersonal relationships. 

According to a survey conducted by Forbes, 96% of employees believe that showing empathy during harsh organizational decisions is an important way of improving employee retention. In industrial organizations, employees desire to work in an environment where they are provided with equal opportunities, a sense of community, and a clear understanding of a value-centered mission. To encourage interpersonal effectiveness, managers can streamline staff cooperation, communication processes, and participation reward systems.

4. Esteem

When these basic needs are addressed, an individual will want to satisfy his higher-level needs of esteem and self-actualization. This includes the desire for respect from the self and the others in terms of freedom, strength, self-esteem, recognition, status, fame, prestige, and attention. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, workers who feel their superiors treat them with respect and dignity are 63% more satisfied with their jobs. Employees are driven towards positive self-image, respect, and recognition in terms of job titles, perks, awards, and prestigious work assignments. It is the responsibility of managers to make everyone feel important and valued by working towards employee empowerment, public praise, job enrichment, and cross-training programs. Further, allowing employees to participate in the decision-making processes of the organization is an excellent way to fulfill esteem needs.

5. Self-Actualization

The last-tier of Maslow’s Theory focuses on the person’s full potential and his/her ability to accomplish everything he/she is capable of. It is the desire to become the most that one can be.

With self-actualization, employees will be interested in personal growth and development. They may want challenging jobs, pursue further education, and autonomy to define their capabilities for meeting organizational goals.


According to the Pew Research Center, only 51% of US workers claim to get a sense of identity from their jobs. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of managers to allow employees to think creatively, to improvise, to have a vision for the future, and provide necessary inputs for senior leadership. In simple words, managers should focus on promoting an environment where an employee can realize and meet his/her own self-actualization needs.

The main idea of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is that human needs are constantly changing and evolving. It is a reminder that businesses are served best when they take care of the workforce by demonstrating compassion and empathy while implementing clear and measurable standards, values, and expectations. It is crucial to establish a model of participatory management where employees’ contribution in decision-making processes is sought, valued, and rewarded. 

Enterprises and their HR Managers should aim at creating a workforce with respect and dignity, where each employee feels heard and empowered, possesses a clear understanding of objectives, and achieves full potential without the fear of risk-taking. Working toward satisfying these needs allows people to become their best selves, which in turn, enables companies and brands to excel. 

Executive Programme in Human Resource Management (EPHRM) 

Apart from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, HR Managers have to become proficient in many other aspects like Strategic HRM, Contemporary Talent Management, etc. which can only be mastered through a systematic course designed especially for Human Resource Management. Executive programme in Human Resource Management (EPHRM) by IIM Calcutta is one of the most recommended course for HR Managers. The 12-month programme aims to cover the canvas of Human Resource Management at both the macro and micro level while also taking into account the customer-oriented view about managing human resources in manufacturing, services, and sales organizations. The course is ideal for the working graduates and the executives looking forward to making a career in Human Resource Management. Executives looking to accelerate their career and assuming senior management roles can attend the course. 

The course content has been selected following the international standards and includes topics like Organisational Behaviour, Strategic HRM, and Contemporary Talent Management. Modules of Economics of HRM, Cross-cultural issues in HRM, Statistical Tools for HRM, Contemporary Issues in HRM, Employer Branding will be covered during the 5 days campus visit. 

Executive programme in Human Resource Management By IIM Calcutta is the best course available in the industry to get a deep understanding of the topic while getting an edge over others.