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Goal Planning & Alignment

Maslow’s Hierarchy of (Work): Discover Professional Development

July 2, 2019
7 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


Last week we introduced how Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs can be used by HR departments to help understand what employees need in order to achieve growth in their roles. But once you understand the why, the next step is the how. Here's how to take what you know about Maslow's Hierarchy and implement it in the workplace:

The next step is determining what the actual needs of your employees are at each stage. How can you ensure that those needs are met as they progress through the pyramid in becoming the best and most productive employees they’re capable of being?

Figuring it out: Traditionally, you could try to get a sense of employees' needs by engaging them through performance reviews and in-person meetings. But, as the workforce gets more remote and companies grow larger, often geographically separating managers, HR, and frontline employees, we need better tools for taking the temperature of the workplace. A lot of companies are implementing micropulse surveys, which allow you to find out what is bothering (or thrilling!) your employees in near real time.

A critical function of your role as a leader is to determine what are required necessities for your employees to grow and develop into their full potential. You have to calculate what ignoring these needs in regard to their professional development might mean for you as an employer, your employer brand, and your hiring cycle. Workplace management experts Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath, say:

Employees are vastly more satisfied and productive, it turns out, when four of their core needs are met: physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; mental, when they have the opportunity to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks and define when and where they get their work done; and spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and by feeling connected to a higher purpose at work.”

How does Maslow’s Hierarchy help #HR and #EmployeePerformance goals? @ClearCompany shows you how to implement it in the workplace:

Figuring it out: Before you can even begin to assess the workplace needs of your employees, you need to make yourself attractive to candidates. It’s important that they know before even walking in on the first day that you care about their well-being. Offering adequate compensation for your region is the first step in giving your employees what they need to be successful. Do a little research as you lay out the role you’re trying to fill. Glassdoor, Indeed, and even Google have all done extensive research to provide employers and candidates with a general salary range for the average worker in a given role.

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Want to go beyond competitive? Look into housing prices in your city and figure out what you’d need to pay someone for them to live comfortably. As we know, this is a basic human need, so employers should do everything in their power to meet it.


Employees need the tools and information required to get their job done. If this need isn’t met by the employer, the team has no way to progress to the next stages. This is particularly essential during the onboarding program.

A robust onboarding program has the capability to make or break an employee’s stint with an organization; 17% of new hires are likely to leave within the first 3 months on the job. An effective onboarding program directly impacts an employee’s success (and tenure) in an organization. Companies that implement a robust program within the first 3 months see a 50% higher retention rate than those that don’t.

Figuring it out: To save on expenses, many companies scrimp on technology, tools, or processes that could save their employees hours or make their lives easier. But, the money an enterprise might save on the cost of implementing an onboarding platform costs much more in lost employee time and lost productivity if the training program is poor. Investing in the first stages of an employee’s lifecycle can make your money back exponentially throughout their time with your company, and ensures the new employee feels supported and energized to take on their new role.


Layoffs are at a 20-year low, and the current labor shortage in the U.S. means fewer people will be fired for lesser infractions. As a result, there’s a decreased anxiety that workers will be shown the door, but it leaves more room for a toxic work environment to form when the threat of losing your job feels distant. The result is a rising power struggle, which has caused a spike in bullying in the workforce. And it’s affecting your employees’ abilities to grow.

Figuring it out: Workplace Bullying Institute reported one-third of people to say they've been bullied on the job. 82% of workplace bullying incidents were peer-to-peer, according to SHRM. For employees to feel safe in your environment, you have to create opportunities for them to share their fears or worries and learn to confront employees who are making the workplace toxic for others. Creating a safe workplace for all of your employees means dealing with workplace bullying or harassment quickly and decisively.


The idea that the employee is suited to the role and the company culture would ideally be determined before they are hired, but that’s not always possible 40% of employees say that feeling excluded at work makes them stressed, angry, and sad. To belong means they feel comfortable enough at work to truly be themselves. That sense of belonging in the workplace can’t be met until team members become comfortable in their roles.

Figuring it out: Companies need to clearly lay out the expectations and responsibilities for employees so that they can understand where they fit into the puzzle and what they need to accomplish to be successful in their role. A Talent Management System helps managers track goals and progress and provide the necessary tools for growth. These systems provide a gauge for how well an employee grasps the core competencies of their role and where there’s room for development.

So you know how Maslow’s Hierarchy fits into the workplace, but how to do you use it to help #EmployeeDevelopment? @ClearCompany shows you how:


Once employers have surpassed the first few stages of the work needs pyramid, they can begin to focus on professionally developing their team. 93% of employees say they would stick with their company longer if they felt that their managers were invested in their growth and career goals. Equivalent to the achievement and respect of others on the traditional hierarchy of needs, employees need the same things at work. Growth and development foster accomplishments and those accomplishments often nurture professional respect.

Figuring it out: Esteem is instilled in different ways for different employees. While a big celebratory dinner for a job well done might thrill one employee, another might prefer a quiet one-on-one with their boss and some private recognition. The simplest way to figure this out is to speak to both the employee and their manager. Find out what they’re doing well on from their team and then make sure they know their team appreciates these qualities. Make sure employees understand the impact of their work and how it aligns with their career goals.


Self-actualized employees are highly engaged and pursue new projects, innovations, and challenges out of independent curiosity. Unfortunately, many employees are unable to reach this stage in the workplace hierarchy of needs because they aren’t getting what they need along their journey. Only 29% of workers believe they are encouraged to be creative in their roles, but they also say they’re rarely given the opportunity to do so.

Figuring it out: This can feel like an impossible task for many HR professionals. With today’s emphasis on productivity, it can feel like you’re constantly being asked to create more with less. Instead of removing the goal of creativity and self-actualization, find ways to weave it into the work you’re already doing. Have a graphic designer itching to create art they like? Have them run wild with the benefits posters. The QA feeling like she always has to give people bad news? Offer to let her announce a cool, new initiative. Will these ideas change the culture of your company overnight? Probably not. But they will make each person feel like their personal needs are at least seen, if not always met at work.

Very similar to the human necessities delineated by Abraham Maslow, the workplace functions much in the same way. As a leader, you can help guide your employees through each of these stages by addressing their needs, security, and office integration as well as giving them the tools they need for professional development and creativity in the workplace. You can download our printable Maslow's pyramids and fill them in as they apply to your own organization With this, you can distinguish what your team truly needs to grow.

ClearCompany has the tools you need to help your team along the employment lifecycle. Click here to find out more.


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