If you ask ten people how to create a remarkable experience in the work place, 9 would probably say, “pay me more money” or “better benefits." I see these things as ways to get people to come to work, or ways to ward off attrition, not creating a remarkable experience. In order to create a remarkable experience, management has to learn and pay attention to something that is off the books, out of the paycheck, and deep into the psyche of their employees.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who came up with this theory and it goes much deeper than how I will explain it today. In fact, let's look at it the same way that I was taught about in grade school. Let’s dive in shall we?
This covers the basis of human need. Breathing. Food. Water. Sleep. Excretion. I know, I know, you are probably thinking, “How much thought do I need to put in to if people are breathing are not?" Not much usually, but let me ask you this: Are there plants around to keep the air fresh? How is the air quality? Do your employees have ample time for bathroom breaks and lunch? Until these things are covered, people do not think about much else.
This covers the security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, and property. Do employees feel safe? Are people comfortable asking questions and do they feel like they have a stable job? Are they doing anything that they are morally against or unhealthy? Are there lockers where they can stash their belongings? Safety and physiological are two stages that should be pretty easy to take care of, but if they are not taken care of it will be hard to build a company culture that provides a remarkable experience.
Belonging / Love / Friendship
Now we get into the the hippy dippy stage of the blog. And while we're being honest, Maslow never even used the pyramid when describing the Hierarchy of Needs, but it certainly makes it easier to explain.
Friendship. Family. Sexual intimacy. Maybe we don’t actually need to talk about the third one for the purposes of this blog, but I am single so holllllerrrrrr. Just kidding (but not really).
Once your employees feel safe, they are more relaxed. They can form bonds at work. Friendship creates healthy and happy workers, and can create a family type environment. Typically, a 40 hour a week employee is going to spend more time with co-workers than some family members, so it makes sense that relationships are important. We are less likely to “throw someone under the bus” if that someone is less of a stranger, and more like a family member.
Now we are in the juicy bits of Maslow’s theory. The stuff that makes people pleasant to be around, and has a direct correlation with productivity. Whether it be sales people, ink mixers, or a guy in the screen room (you’re the best Jose!), employees with high self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect by others are going to be passionate about what they do. At Sharprint, we love when people are just freaks about their jobs. Carlos, our production manager even got a tattoo of a hand pulling a squeegee. This is evidence that Carlos sees screenprinting as his craft, not just his job. Letting people create, learn, and teach is also a great way to nurture the feeling of achievement in the workplace. Plus, you won’t get bogged down in bad habits!
In the words of the great Guillaume Nery, “Cette merde est profonde” or “This S#1t is deep." Self actualization is really just realizing your full potential. You can only do this if the other needs in the pyramid are realized first. Traits of self actualization are spontaneity, task centering, autonomy, continued freshness of appreciation, fellowship with humanity, profound interpersonal relationships, comfort with solitude, non-hostile sense of humor, and peak experiences. Imagine that!!! Imagine if everyone that you worked with had their needs met, and worked at their full potential? Obviously there are outside influencers of this, whether it be from home, or personal things, but I can’t imagine someone with a continued freshness of appreciation or being centered on a task if they were scared of taking a second to go to the bathroom or if they were constantly checking to see if their shoes were stolen.
There is an anecdote I always think of when I think about Maslow’s concept. It is about a turkey and a wolf running away from a hunter. The Turkey can’t figure out why the wolf isn’t attacking him. It's because the Wolf has to worry about his safety before he can worry about dinner.