By: Angela Castor
Eighty years ago, Abraham Maslow developed The Theory of Human Motivation more popularly known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. His theory states that a person’s motivation is based on the attempt five levels of needs- Physiological Needs (food, water, air, clothing, shelter), Safety Needs (personal, financial, health security), Social Needs (love and belongingness with other people), Need for Esteem (self-esteem, recognition, respect) and Self-Actualization (the need to reach a person’s full potential), respectively. Each need must be fulfilled from the lower level before a person progresses to meet the higher-level needs.
Hierarchy of Needs on the 21st Century
Fast forward to today, the structure Maslow created is still relevant to the modern-day workplace. Factors that motivate the employees have not really changed however, how they organize the order of their needs may have. In the Middle East, a group of researchers (Uysal, Aydemir, Genc) examined Maslow’s theory in relation to the working conditions of organizations in the 21st Century. It was concluded that Esteem Needs prevailed, and this need comes before Safety and Social Needs. This also holds true in the Philippines wherein one of the companies, the top two career drivers that predominated were the need to enhance their expertise and Search for Meaning, a higher purpose.
Determining a Millenial’s Motivation
In 2020, it is said that millennials will comprise fifty percent (50%) of the workforce in the Philippines. The need to know what motivates each Millennial should be one of the focal points, if not the most important, in an organization. The bigger goal is not just to determine what will make them stay but rather, what will keep them going? This is because factors that will make a Millennial stay do not necessarily equate to factors that motivate them or keep them going. But if an organization addresses the question on what truly motivates them, the end result for the company may be loyalty, higher productivity, and better quality output. They will stay─ because they chose to stay, not because they don’t have a choice.
Take for example an employee who receives a high salary. It may be his reason for staying it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is fulfilling his need for career growth or for recognition. Some employees may also stay because of good culture and great teammates, but he isn’t satisfied with the kind of mentorship he gets.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Millennials are often accused of job-hopping and may be perceived as unprofessional, indecisive and don’t know how to be contented. You have probably read a lot of articles describing the kind of work environment and motivation a Millennial wants. Truth is, there is no same formula for motivation and fulfillment. When one’s motivators are exceeded by “demotivators”, a resignation wouldn’t be a surprise at all. As a manager, one must know that each one has different motivations and not everyone is on the same level of Maslow’s needs as one person is. One employee may be motivated by money because he has to support his family but the other may be motivated when he is faced with a challenge as he needs to fulfill his need for other people’s respect. Furthermore, if an organization doesn’t know what motivates its people, it would lead to a wrong reinforcement. And a wrong reinforcement, no matter how positive and good, will not lead to fulfillment.
Organizations must strike a good balance between what motivates each one and what makes them stay. When you have found the right mix, it will only lead to a person’s fulfillment, it will lead to a company’s realization of its goals.
Angela Castor is the Sales Manager of FutureSmart Resources + Strategies Inc., an Asean company committed to bridge gaps through technological innovation and data-driven strategies. She is also a former market researcher and brand marketer in one of the biggest research firms in the country and financial service industry, respectively.