How the Traditional Hierarchy of Needs May Not Apply in Today's Workplace

A new hierarchy of needs at work vs the traditional hierarchy of needs, formulated by Abraham Maslow in the 1940s, posits that humans are motivated to satisfy basic physiological needs before moving on to safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. This model has been widely accepted and applied in a variety of settings, including the workplace.

However, recent research suggests that the traditional hierarchy of needs may not be accurate in today's workplace. In particular, the need for self-actualization (i.e., fulfillment and personal development) appears to be more important than previously thought.

Employee looking unfocused, unmotivated and bored


In light of this new research, we propose a revised hierarchy of needs at work, which places greater emphasis on the need for self-actualization. This revised hierarchy is based on the following three key pillars:

1. Autonomy: employees need to feel like they have control over their work lives to be enthusiastic and inspired.

2. Meaningful work: employees need to find meaning and purpose in their work to be fully engaged and motivated.

3. Growth and development: employees need to feel that they are constantly learning and growing in their roles.

Chart of employee engagement needs

By focusing on these three pillars, an organization can create a work environment that is more conducive to driving and inspiring employees. In addition, this revised hierarchy of needs can help organizations attract and retain top talent, as well as improve overall performance.

A Work Environment with Autonomy in Mind

In today's workplace, autonomy is an important element to consider when looking at the hierarchy of needs. Autonomy refers to having control over your work and being self-governing. It plays an essential role in providing employees with a feeling of significance, direction, and happiness. A recent Gallup Study found that employees who felt they had autonomy and control over their work were more engaged, satisfied, and productive.

showing the percentage of motivation for people. Two being at a hundred percent


Furthermore, research has found that when employees have autonomy in their work, they are more likely to feel self-actualized. This means they are pleased not only by completing a task but also by mastering something new or tackling an important challenge. Achieving this goal of self-actualization is essential for employee satisfaction and motivation in the office.

Therefore, it can be argued that autonomy should be placed higher on the hierarchy of needs for today's workplace than previously thought. It is not just about satisfying the most basic level of physiological needs anymore; rather, it is about providing workers with the ability to create and maintain their fulfillment and personal development through meaningful tasks and challenges. If an organization allows its employees to have some control and autonomy over their work, they will likely find that the work environment is more productive overall and that individual workers are happier.

The workforce has become increasingly globalized and mobile, which has led to a more individualistic approach to work.

work colleagues collaborating and interacting together

The globalization of the workforce has led to a more individualistic approach to work. With more people working in different parts of the world, there is less of a need for traditional hierarchies and formal office structures. Instead, workers are more likely to focus on their own needs and goals. This shift has been driven by the increasing mobility of the workforce, as well as by advances in technology that have made it possible for people to work from anywhere at any time.

While the traditional hierarchy of needs is still a useful framework, it is important to keep in mind that it may not apply in all cases. When thinking about motivation in the office, it is important to consider the changing nature of work and the needs of today's workforce.

Technological advances have made it possible for people to work from anywhere at any time, which has increased the importance of flexibility and autonomy.

Technology has given people the opportunity to work remotely, at any time or place., which has increased the importance of flexibility and autonomy. With the advent of laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices, workers are no longer tied to a particular location. This has led to an increase in the demand for flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting and freelance work.

Meaningful Work to Create Positive Impact

Smiling Woman

Researchers have suggested that meaningful work is an important factor in motivating employees. Meaningful work involves feeling connected to one's job and having a sense of purpose or value associated with it. These tasks may help you grow as a person, build new skills, or contribute to something bigger than yourself.

Employees working on meaningful tasks are more likely to feel satisfied and comfortable in their jobs. Evidence suggests that when employees find purpose in their jobs they experience higher levels of engagement and productivity. Additionally, focusing on meaningful work can increase motivation by helping individuals focus on the positive aspects of their job rather than the mundane aspects. Employees will be coming in to work with a more positive attitude and outlook.

When companies are creating a work environment where employees feel connected to their tasks and experienced value, they provide an important opportunity to satisfy the need for self-actualization.

Ultimately, meaningful work is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to motivating employees in today’s workplace.

Employees holding puzzle pieces in their hands

The nature of work has changed dramatically in recent years, with more emphasis on creativity and innovation

Organizations have been forced to adapt as the world changes and emphasize creativity and innovation. Technology has become an indispensable part of nearly every job, which means workers must be adept at using digital tools to remain competitive.

This shift has made it essential for people to develop their problem-solving skills, while also learning how to think critically and strategically. As the workforce continues to evolve, businesses are looking for employees who can bring new ideas to the table and help drive success through creative solutions. Companies are recognizing that collaboration is key, as different perspectives often lead to better outcomes.

At the same time, workers have gained greater autonomy over their work lives thanks to remote working options becoming commonplace. The need for traditional nine-to-five jobs has decreased and freelancing is on the rise. This means that workers have more flexibility in terms of when and where they work, allowing them to pursue greater opportunities for professional growth and development.

Image that says Continuing Professional Development

The changing nature of work also highlights the significance of learning new skills, as many employers look for people with a wide range of abilities. For this reason, it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends and digital tools that may be beneficial in your job or industry.

The future of work is ever-changing and it is essential to be prepared for the new opportunities that come with it. By staying flexible, open-minded, and able to adapt quickly to new technologies or changing trends, you can remain competitive in today's labor market. With the right knowledge and attitude, you can make the most of the changing nature of work and continue to build a successful career.

These changes have had a profound impact on the way we think about work and what we expect from our jobs

These changes have made us realize that the traditional job-oriented mindset is no longer enough. We now expect more than just a paycheck at the end of every month; we want meaningful work that can help us achieve our goals and fulfill our dreams. With new technology, companies can provide employees with flexible working hours, remote access to their work, and better job satisfaction.

Group of workers interacting with each other in a meeting 

Ultimately, the future of work is changing and it's up to us to embrace these changes. By understanding the opportunities that new technology and the gig economy bring, we can make sure our careers are enhanced and our lives enriched. The possibilities are endless if we choose to take advantage of them. Let's make sure we're not left behind as the world of work continues to evolve.

Growth and Development in Employees' Work

In today's competitive business environment, employees are increasingly seeking growth and development opportunities in the workplace. They may demonstrate more intrinsic motivation, meaning they pursue rewards such as a sense of accomplishment or success, rather than extrinsic motivators like praise or fame. This suggests that businesses should prioritize providing employees with access to meaningful work and professional development resources to foster an environment of evolution and engagement.

Image of smiling happy employees

This can include offering training courses, mentorship opportunities, flexible working hours, and performance feedback systems that allow workers to track their progress over time. Additionally, encouraging open and clear communication between managers and employees can help create a positive workplace culture where everyone feels heard and respected.

Employers should consider this when designing their organizational culture, as it can have a lasting impact on employee engagement and satisfaction. By prioritizing self-actualization and providing adequate resources for development, employers can ensure that their employees remain productive and motivated to perform their best work.

What does collaboration look like in the modern workspace

Image of a work meeting taking place on a laptop, remote working

The modern company is increasingly embracing collaboration to optimize productivity and foster innovation. This can mean anything from having employees work together on projects, developing an open communication policy for problem-solving, or utilizing digital tools that facilitate remote collaboration. Collaboration can take many forms in the modern workspace, but some of the most common include:

1. Working together on projects: In a team-based approach, employees can come together to brainstorm ideas, delegate tasks, and work together towards a common goal. Team collaboration not only enables creativity and faster solutions but also helps foster relationships between employees. An example of a collaborative workspace is having a space dedicated to creativity, social interaction, innovation, and team building.

2. Open communication: Modern teams are increasingly using open communication platforms to stay in contact and build relationships. This approach not only allows for real-time collaboration but also results in better communication between employees, allowing them to be more productive and efficient.

3. Digital tools: New digital technologies are making remote collaboration easier than ever before. From video conferencing to project management tools, these help employees stay connected and productive without necessarily being in the same place.

 Employees collaborating together


Collaboration is vital for any modern company to succeed. By encouraging teamwork and open communication, businesses can foster a culture of collaboration that helps drive productivity and innovation. Which leads to the success of both the employees and management leaders.

Additionally, digital tools are making remote collaboration easy and effective, enabling teams to stay connected and productive even when working from different locations. With the right processes and culture in place, modern businesses can reap the rewards of collaboration and hit company goals.

In conclusion, a new hierarchy of needs exists in the modern workplace. Autonomy and meaningful work are both essential for employees to feel satisfied and fulfilled. Employees need to be able to see how their work contributes to the overall mission of the organization and to be in charge of their work process. Additionally, opportunities for progress and development are necessary for employees to experience self-actualization.

Organizations should consider these factors when designing workplace programs and policies to ensure employee satisfaction and engagement. By focusing on autonomy, meaningful work, growth, and development, organizations can create an environment where employees are motivated to succeed.