Understanding and motivating health care employees: integrating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, training and technology


Suzanne G. Benson
Human Resource Development Program
Northeastern Illinois University
5500 North St Louis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
E-mail: s-benson1@neiu.edu


Aim This paper applies Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Model to the challenges of understanding and motivating employees in a rapidly changing health care industry.

Background The perspective that Maslow's Model brings is an essential element that should be considered as the health care arena is faced with reorganization, re-engineering, mergers, acquisitions, increases in learning demands, and the escalating role of technology in training.

Evaluation This paper offers a new perspective related to how Maslow's Model, as used in business/organizational settings, can be directly related to current workforce concerns: the need for security and freedom from stress, social belongingness, self-esteem, self-actualization, altered work/social environments, and new opportunities for learning and self-definition.

Key issues Changes in health care will continue at an accelerated pace and with these changes will come the need for more and more training. The use of technology in training has heightened access, faster distribution, innovation and increased collaboration. However, with this technology come attendant challenges including keeping up with the technology, the increased pace of training, depersonalization, and fear of the unknown. The Maslow model provides a means for understanding these challenges in terms of universal individual needs.

Conclusion How does one motivate employees in the face of increased demands, particularly when they are being asked to meet these demands with fewer resources? The answer is, in large part, to make the employee feel secure, needed, and appreciated. This is not at all easy, but if leaders take into consideration the needs of the individual, the new technology that provides challenges and opportunities for meeting those needs, and provides the training to meet both sets of needs, enhanced employee motivation and commitment is possible.