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Putting Maslow's pyramid together in today's context

Maslow's pyramid of needs is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. It applies to most people and situations and is one of the first theories to be taught at any B-school. However, a few things to be understood are as follows:

The needs don't go away as you move up the hierarchy. The physiological needs don't go away once they are fulfilled and one moves to safety. A drop in meeting physiological needs will bring the focus back to physiological needs. As you move up the pyramid, the factors that satisfy the earlier needs must remain.

In high education and high skill industry, like the IT software and services, the early needs are met very early in the career. Employees straight out of campus earn enough to feel financially secure and have little liability, unlike the previous generations. An employee joins and is looking to fulfill a love and belonging needs right away, even esteem needs in some cases. Hence motivating factors are already high up in the pyramid and that's where managers need to focus more.

Increasingly, respect, love, and esteem are becoming as important as safety and physiological needs, all at the same time. In India, the significant change in economics as well as changing attitudes of generations has made the people value respect and esteem as basic needs. People are not motivated to work at a place that does not provide them with respect and a friendly environment.

The priority of needs changes based on the situation of an individual. A person may have esteem as the primary motivation today, but safety can take over if circumstances change.

Many other types of needs can be categorized. For example, the need for knowledge, need for family and parenting, and it is possible to add more levels to Maslow's pyramid. However, Maslow provides a strong framework to understanding motivation on the basis that needs drive motivation.

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