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Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

How to apply it to the workplace

Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre hotel chain and Head of Hospitality at Airbnb, used the Hierarchy of Needs pyramid to transform his business. According to Chip, many managers struggle with the abstract concept of self actualization and so focus on lower levels of the pyramid instead.

Conley found one way of helping with higher levels was to help his employees understand the meaning of their roles during a staff retreat…

“In one exercise, we got groups of eight housekeepers at a table and asked an abstract question: if someone from Mars came down and saw what you were doing as a housekeeper in a hotel, what name would they call you? They came up with “The Serenity Sisters,” “The Clutter Busters,” and “The Peace of Mind Police.” There was a sense that people were doing more than just cleaning a room. They were creating a space for a traveler who was far away from home to feel safe and protected.”

Conley’s team were able to realise the importance of their job to the company and to the people they were helping. By showing them the value of their roles, the team were able to feel respected and motivated to work harder.

In order to get the most out of your team, you should also make sure you support them in other aspects of their lives outside work. Perhaps you could offer flexible working hours to give employees time to focus on their families and make sure they are paid fairly to help them feel financially stable.

3. Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect was first described by Henry A. Landsberger in 1950 who noticed a tendency for some people to work harder and perform better when they were being observed by researchers.

The Hawthorne Effect is named after a series of social experiments on the influence of physical conditions on productivity at Western Electric’s factory at Hawthorne, Chicago in the 1920s and 30s.

The researchers changed a number of physical conditions over the course of the experiments including lighting, working hours and breaks. In all cases, employee productivity increased when a change was made. The researchers concluded that employees became motivated to work harder as a response to the attention being paid to them, rather than the actual physical changes themselves.

How to apply it to the workplace

The Hawthorne Effect studies suggest that employees will work harder if they know they’re being observed. While I don’t recommend hovering over your employees watching them all day, you could try providing regular feedback, letting your team know that you know what they’re up to and how they’re doing.

Showing your employees that you care about them and their working conditions may also motivate them to work harder. Encourage your team to give you feedback and suggestions about their workspace and development.