Employee Hierachy of Needs: Is there such a thing?

Employee Engagement, Experience, Pulsing

You may well have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The needs hierarchy was developed by American psychologist, Abraham Maslow in 1943 as part of his Theory of Human Motivation.

The theory states that there are five human needs that dictate an individual’s behaviour, which include:


Safety and security 

Love and belonging 



While Maslow’s hierarchy of needs refers to one’s motivators in life, it’s been used to determine one’s motivators in the workplace too. ‘Motivators’, also meaning level of engagement, although the pyramid looks a little different, including needs such as:






Maslow's Hierarchy of Workplace Needs

Source: nextlevelbd

This ’employee’ hierarchy of needs suggests an employee’s assumed level of engagement, dependent on their core need. 

The bottom two tiers suggest that an employee whose dominant workplace needs are survival and/or security, is an employee who’s less likely to feel engaged. 

Survival: ‘An employee that works because they have to’. (I.e clockwatcher, leaves as soon as the workday ends, hates what they do, is not excited by work). 

Security: ‘There for the money’. They’re looking for something better, they’re no happy with their team, manager or environment, but stay for the money.

The good news is that employees who feel negatively about their work, can become highly engaged! 

How to create highly engaged teams

1.First, know your organisation’s level of engagement 

The first step to measuring and improving employee engagement is knowing where you stand on the employee engagement scale. Many leaders believe their people are engaged when in fact they’re not. So, of course, engagement becomes less of a priority while problems continue to grow. It’s why so many organisation’s struggle with high staff turnover, low productivity and performance, poor company culture, absenteeism and more. 

To find out your organisation’s level of engagement, take Inpulse’s FREE engagement health check. It’s quick, easy and accurate.

2. Find out how your people feel / what’s driving their behaviour using pulse surveys

You cannot fix a problem without knowing what’s causing it. If you know your people are disengaged, find out why this is so. What are they feeling? The best way to find this out is by conducting regular pulse surveys. This way, you can ask your people what they feel and need, and you’ll finally discover the answers to your burning people-centric questions. More often than not, negative employee feelings can so easily be changed. By making changes based your people’s feedback, levels of engagement can be completely transformed. 

3. Use feedback (and emotional data) to make decisions 

The feedback you get from your pulse surveys should be used to make decisions. Most leaders make decisions based on what they see fit, but when it comes to people, it’s best to make decisions based on the needs of the majority. It’s the most diplomatic approach to decision making, and the most rewarding. It’s unusual for employees to feel negatively about decisions they helped to make.

4. Review your changes and measure your progress 

Throughout your engagement journey you’ll be gathering data and using it to make decisions. The best way to learn whether your decisions were/are beneficial or not, is to keep up with regular pulse surveys. Always give your people a voice! 

Master Engagement Throughout the Employee Lifecycle