Millennials and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Millennials and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Nichole Gunn

Millennials gathered around in a casual work environment - maslow's hiearchy - millennials - employee engagement

A week ago we discussed Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the way it impacts employee engagement. Now, let’s look at the hierarchy again and see how it affects millennials, those born anywhere between the early 80’s and the late 90’s. The Millennials will soon be the largest demographic within the American workforce.

To review Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

  • Survival – Biological needs such as food, water, shelter, sleep.
  • Safety – Needs stability, security, order, law, and protection from elements.
  • Belonging – Needs friendship, love, affection, and intimacy.
  • Importance – Needs to achieve and master things, independence, and self-respect.
  • Self-Actualization – Needs to fulfill individual potential and capability.

So, how do these needs relate to Millennials?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Millennials

In recent studies, Millennials defined what they expect from their professional lives. When you compare what they said were their needs to Maslow’s needs, you’ll see that their needs are incredibly similar to Maslow’s last three needs.

In a 2020 Deloitte study, Millennials said they are concerned about:

  • Climate change
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • The option of remote work
  • Work/life balance
  • Bringing their “true selves” to work
  • Training and education opportunities from employers

Obviously, the needs for survival and safety are intrinsic needs that apply to everyone. However, Millennials place much more of their focus on the last three needs – belonging, importance, and self-actualization. It would almost be safe to say that those three needs are the driving force behind most of their motivation.

If you’re a business owner and for some reason you think this data is irrelevant, you might want to reconsider. Millennials already make up the majority of the workforce, and Gen Z (who have similar work attitudes to millennials) are set to overtake Boomers in 2024.

You’ll have to meet the needs of the majority of your employees if you don’t want employee retention to be one of your major issues. Millennials aren’t of “job hopping” to find a company that meets their demands and fulfills their needs. Where older generations had around five jobs during their career, most Millennials will hold upwards of 20. Meeting their needs and maintaining employee satisfaction is going to be more important (and more challenging) than ever. It’s a good idea to start adapting to those expectations now.

How to Engage Millennial Employees

So how do you get going in this direction? You must create the type of environment that Millennials and all future employees will be searching for. We recommend that you try some of the following tactics:

  • Build a team-centric environment that rewards all efforts, ensuring that work is meaningful.
  • Give employees the training they require to “self-actualize”.
  • Launch an employee recognition program, making them feel respected and recognized.

Starting now places you way ahead of your competition and prepares your organization for challenges your peers aren’t even thinking of yet.

The easiest way to launch these initiatives is with an employee recognition program. This helps your employees feel valued by rewarding and recognizing them for their accomplishments and efforts.

At Incentive Solutions we’ve built incentive programs and recognition cultures for over 30 years. We know that when you foster employee culture in your workplace, your employees’ performance will improve due to the fact that they are being respected, recognized, and feel like their work is meaningful.

If you’d like to begin preparing for the future of your business today, and to find out where you stand with your current workforce, take the hierarchy infographic from above and ask your employees where they feel they are on it. They’ll inform you of how engaged they are, or if there are areas of opportunity they feel you could work on. If you’d like to discuss how an employee recognition program can help your business or to start this process today, call us at 866-567-7432.