How to Use Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to Increase Employee Motivation

Much of economics is about incentives and creating reasons for people to change or alter behavior. This is ultimately about motivation, which is driven by the existence of needs. Abraham Maslow developed a needs-based model that suggests that needs such as safety and health must be met before a person can focus on needs such as self-actualization. It was not long before the world of management infused Maslow's theory into human resource management.

Focus on health care and physiological needs. This is the first level of needs, according to Maslow. Provide additional health care options for your employees. Provide a way for them to get health care at the work site as well as at their own personal doctors' offices. Lower the costs associated with health care and focus on health in the workplace with awards for fitness programs and weight loss goals. An inexpensive in-house cafeteria for employees and a fitness center are great ways to promote health and well-being.

Concentrate on safety. Create mandatory workforce seminars and training on what to do in case of emergency. This includes fire hazards, weather-related events and knowledge of hazardous materials. This also includes visual warnings of danger in places like stairs, elevators or wet floors.

Create social outlets for employees. This includes providing ways for employees to get to know each other with team builders and sports. Affinity groups are great for bringing people together in a social setting within the workplace. If possible, provide free or discounted tickets to cultural and social events in your community.

Allow employees to concentrate on esteem and self-actualization. These are the two highest levels of need, according to Maslow. Promote continued education and provide tuition reimbursement programs for employees. Sponsor charity events with the United Way. All of these actions can help employees to reach their full potential, which will ultimately benefit the company.