Maslow´s hierarchy of needs

Maslow assumes that human behaviour is based on five fundamental needs:

– need for self-fulfillment

– need for esteem and recognition (self-respect and respect from others)

– need for affiliation and love (social needs)

– need for security (protection needs)

– physiological needs (hunger, thirst etc.)


Maslow acts on the assumption that these needs develop hierarchically. Only once the physiological needs have been satisfied can the security needs be satisfied. Once the security needs are satisfied, the social needs can be satisfied, and so on.

In addition, he acts on the assumption that the need for self-fulfillment (growth need) only develops once the needs below this (deficit needs) have been satisfied. According to Maslow, no satiation effects occur for the need for self-fulfillment, unlike for the deficit needs. This means that the need for self-fulfillment does not result in satisfaction, but in constant further development and expansion.

How can a manager take up the fundamental human needs named by Maslow and give the staff the opportunity to satisfy these needs within their work?


The staff’s physiological needs can be met through regulations regarding breaks and occupational safety (e.g. regarding hazardous substances or shift work).

The need for security and protection can be met with a secure job. The member of staff need not worry about losing their job and can dedicate himself fully to his task.

The need for affiliation and contact can be taken up by the manager through staff meetings, in which the manager shows an open and supportive attitude and thus his interest in the professional development of each individual member of staff.

The need for recognition and esteem can be met through direct and genuine praise from the manager and through granting the member of staff more space to act and make decisions independently. Within the company, there are awards and bonuses for outstanding performance.

The individual member of staff can fulfil the need for self-fulfillment in his career by seeking out challenging tasks and thus constantly expanding his skills and abilities. These professional challenges cause the level of qualification to increase, which will allow him to climb the career ladder in the long term.

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