Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the Ideas Programme

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.

Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, all of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid, with the largest and most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualisation at the top. The most fundamental and basic four layers of the pyramid contain what Maslow called “deficiency needs” or “d-needs”: esteem, love and belonging, safety, and physilogical needs.

With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these “deficiency needs” are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious and tense. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.

Maslow also coined the term Metamotivation to describe the motivation of people who go beyond the scope of the basic needs and strive for constant betterment. Metamotivated people are driven by B-needs (Being Needs), instead of deficiency needs (D-Needs).

So how does the common suggestion scheme fit into Maslow’s hierarchy?

Well the top two portions of the triangle deal with the aspects of achievement and self actualisation and a good quality employee engagement programme can satisfy these needs in your employees.

Firstly we need to look at why people submit ideas in the first place:-

  • Problem Solving – Employee’s within the organisation submit ideas as they are fully aware of the issues surrounding a process they use on a daily basis.
  • Creativity – Some employees are very creative and will look to make improvements in your business as part of their role within the business
  • Frustration – Sometimes, something is just so wrong in your organisation that employees will want to make the change to allow their daily tasks to be easier.

Now a good quality suggestion programme will have a large amount of recognition for the submitter, the recognition for the idea satisfies the needs of the meta-motivated person who strives for constant betterment.

A recent Gallop survey indicated that employees who are more motivated within the workplace have a high rate of productivity and higher rates of job satisfaction.

So, if your organisation has the opportunity for employee to submit ideas, those who take part in the programme will feel part of the business, feel as though they have the respect of the management team and will have to confidence to know that their ideas will be seriously considered.


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