Maslow’s Theory of Needs – Diploma of Management Training

In Our Diploma of Management Course You’ll Learn About Maslow’s Theory of Needs

Often we can be surprised in the difference between what we think motivates the people in our team and what actually does motivate them. Studies on what motivates people at work have found that contrary to popular belief, money is not the major motivator for most people.  Factors such as `feeling valued’, and `using my skills’ often come above money in the priority list.

The one significant exception to this is when a person feels significantly over or under paid. In these cases money rapidly rises to number one.

Abraham Maslow studied motivation in 1943 and suggested that human needs could be described in five categories and that these categories formed a hierarchy.

Needs at the higher levels only become apparent once needs at the lower levels have been satisfied.  In other words, if physiological needs (i.e. hunger) are all met, then safety become the next priority.  Most people in work these days have the first two needs met so could be considered to seek fulfillment of their other needs through work.

NOTE: There have been many studies and counterarguments since 1943.  The main point of these arguments has been about the risk of stereotyping people by believing that everyone is motivated by the same thing.

Physiological needs

These are biological needs. They consist of needs for oxygen, food, water, and a relatively constant body temperature. They are the strongest needs because if a person were deprived of all needs, the physiological ones would come first in the person’s search for satisfaction.

Safety needs

When all physiological needs are satisfied and are no longer controlling thoughts and behaviours, the needs for security can become active. Adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganization in the social structure (such as widespread rioting). Children often display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe.


When the needs for safety and for physiological well-being are satisfied, the next class of needs for love, affection and belongingness can emerge. Maslow states that people seek to overcome feelings of loneliness and alienation. This involves both giving and receiving love, affection and the sense of belonging.


When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. These involve needs for both self-esteem and for the esteem a person gets from others. Humans have a need for a stable, firmly based, high level of self-respect, and respect from others. When these needs are satisfied, the person feels self-confident and valuable as a person in the world. When these needs are frustrated, the person feels inferior, weak, helpless and worthless.


When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, then and only then are the needs for self-fulfilment activated. Maslow describes self-fulfilment as a person’s need to be and do that which the person was ‘born to do.  ‘A musician must make music, an artist must paint, and a poet must write.’

These needs make themselves felt in signs of restlessness. The person feels on edge, tense, lacking something, in short, restless. If a person is hungry, unsafe, not loved or accepted, or lacking self-esteem, it is very easy to know what the person is restless about. It is not always clear what a person wants when there is a need for self-fulfilment.


LMIT provides online training and Nationally Recognised Courses in Certificate IV in Frontline Management and the Diploma of Management.

Published by: LMIT

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