As the most influential model of motivation, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs dissects the fundamental needs of humans - basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment needs. Employees’ needs are indeed a microcosmic reflection of this model and are vital to track their growth and development.
Maslow's Hierarchy and Employee Engagement
Organizations can apply the psychoanalytic dimension of this model for employee engagement and effectively address their needs. Fair compensations meet their physiological and safety needs. Employee recognitions and rewards make them feel valued and appreciated thereby addressing their esteem needs. Thereby, making employees feel motivated to reach their true potential, thus carving a path for their self-actualization needs. It is a known fact that appreciation and motivation come hand in hand. Whether it is the plaudits an artist receives from the audience or a standing ovation after a batsman hits his century, the recognition received is unmatched even by loads of money
COVID-19: Putting theory into practice
We are now more than six months into the pandemic- a never-before-seen situation for organizations worldwide. With an atomized workforce, every company has been tested on how they react to these stressful circumstances.
Employee focus and engagement in uncertain times like these are coming across as one of the most common challenges.
When the different stages of Maslow’s hierarchy are not addressed, people are likely to suffer from mental health issues, affecting their overall well-being. This can gradually result into low employee engagement levels, morale, and productivity.
Understand the situation
The nature of the pandemic, its spread and health impacts coupled with isolated working have impinged upon the psyche of the employees with multifarious emotions viz. anxiety, uncertainty, fear, overwhelm, and pessimism. Thereby, shifting organizational focus to down a level or two on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Currently, employees are increasingly getting more motivated by the bottom three levels:
- Physiological (food, water, sleep, clothing, shelter)
- Safety and security (personal, emotional, financial, health)
- Belonging (friends, relationships, family).
As such, organizations need to demonstrate dynamic cognition of the situation and innovate new ways of engaging with employees, ensuring a positive flow of energy and increased levels of recognition.
Many employee-centric companies have put on hold on-going initiatives, and reprioritized employee safety as a paramount requirement. The implementation of a work from anywhere policy is part of this employee-safety-first approach. For those companies where remote working was not fully feasible, employers ensured special efforts towards increased workspace separation and sanitation, social distancing, spacing work on manufacturing floors, and staggered shifts.
Many organizations like Amazon, Facebook, Walmart, Reliance, PepsiCo, and Paytm have also been taking care of employee compensations, organizing elaborate learning and development programs, and monitoring the mental well-being of their employees. PepsiCo has also pledged to pay full salaries to quarantined employees. Walmart has been hiring aggressively and paying extra bonuses to its employees for going above and beyond the call of duty in serving its customers during these challenging times. Facebook has also rewarded its employees with $1,000 bonuses to support their families in adapting during the crisis.
Mental wellness of employees is one of the most critical HR challenges in this health and economic crisis. ITC Hotels Group is treating mental wellness as its top priority. In this pursuit, each HR manager calls at least 10 employees daily to check upon their and family’s health and safety.
Organizations have had to rethink town halls and transform them into 100% virtual yet engaging sessions. Using collaboration platforms like Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, HR teams have been bringing the whole organization together in a virtual environment where leaders can share their thoughts and financial results with employees, address many hard-hitting questions from employees and reward top performers. Also, to address the fun and engagement facet of workforce management, HRs are now organizing multiple health and wellness webinars, virtual games, yoga sessions and virtual celebrations on special occasions and festivals.
All these employee-centric steps help companies to achieve their objective of keeping employees feel valued, appreciated, motivated, and cared for.
Future-proof your workforce
No matter what disruptive forces or stressful scenarios hit the world, people centricity ought to be the heart of organizational strategies. Today, companies need to reinvent themselves to survive and thrive, by amping up their level of preparedness, resilience and a mindset focused on employees’ emotional needs.
To negotiate the curve of COVID and distinguish between a winner and a runner, organizations need to emphasize more on fostering emotional bonds. This will lead to a people first culture with employees invested in the larger organizational goals and look at their engagement with a long-term perspective.