Rewards and Recognition: Recognition as a Basic Human Need

by | Oct 30, 2012 | 0 comments

Did you know that by establishing recognition programs in your company, what you’re really doing is meeting the fundamental needs of your employees? Some believe that basic need is simply a job that pays. Well, that’s not so. According to one interpretation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, anyway.

If you’re unfamiliar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it goes like this: all humans have essential needs that must be met through the course of their development. The most basic of all needs are the physiological needs which are critical to human survival: air, food, water, sleep, etc. The layers of need most important after the survival needs are those that would leave a person’s life empty and discontented when not met, for example, the security of home and employment, friendships, family, self-confidence, and the mutual respect of others. Once these crucial yet basic, lower-level needs are met, the final level of need – that of self-actualization – can be reached. This is the level of creativity, challenge and problem solving that works as a motivator to propel one’s life forward with purpose.

Forbes has recently conducted research with the result of being able to link directly Maslow’s Hierarchy with the needs we as humans have to be fulfilled in our careers. The basic human survival needs remain at the bottom of Forbes’s hierarchy, but above that, where Maslow places the need for safety, researchers have associated the need for employees to receive compensation and benefits. In correlation with friends and family, they place the need for social acceptance and team building, while self-confidence and respect directly translates into the workplace unchanged.

These two tiers, the social need to belong and the need for confidence and respect, are obtained through recognition from fellow employees. Psychologically, humans require the social reinforcement and validation of feeling like we belong among our peers and are appreciated by them. This need cannot be met without our actions being recognized by those we work with. When our peers acknowledge our efforts as part of a team, and when they respect the work that we accomplish, this motivates us to maintain our efforts and provides us with a sense of pride and satisfaction which is indispensable to our psychological development.

The final tier of self-actualization (Maslow’s idea of challenge, creativity and problem solving) is seen in the workplace structure as the needs we have in order to achieve career development opportunities. However, as is the hierarchy of needs, the more basic levels of need must be met before self-actualization occurs. Once our basic needs of compensation, benefits, social acceptance, team building, self-confidence, and respect have been met, only then can we meet our need for personal and professional development.

It’s time to throw out the idea that recognition programs aren’t worth the effort. Can you remember all the times that you were recognized for your accomplishments? Didn’t those times make you a better employee, a better professional, a better person? Recognition is necessary to meeting the needs of your employees and helping them grow into valuable contributors.

For more information on how Presenta Plaque can help you provide the essentials for your employees, give us a call or visit our website!


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