Most senior managers in business are aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and its relevance to employee satisfaction and performance improvement. This famous theoretical model describes the pyramid of requirements that humans need if they are to reach the pinnacle of contentment. The theory applies to both personal relationships and to our experiences within the workplace.

Whilst modern research shows some shortcomings with this theory, it remains an important and simple tool for business leaders worldwide that helps them to understand how to motivate and empower their workforces. At PAEM, we have seen how bringing people together at live events contributes to an understanding of how these needs are being met within a company and in its relationships with channel partners and other stakeholders.

Working through the stages

Maslow’s theory states that an individual (in the case of a workplace, an employee) cannot reap the benefits of a higher level need if one or more of the lower levels are not being met.

So, for example, an employee with a great boss (‘belongingness’) who provides regular recognition (‘esteem’) will not be fully satisfied unless they also have a market-rate salary (‘physiological’) with good job security (‘security’).

Equally, an employee who is allowed to manage their own workload (‘self-actualisation’) and has a sustainable salary level within their secure role will not reach maximum job satisfaction if their management and team are below par.

Another important aspect of Maslow’s theory is that this isn’t a static scale. Just because you have once managed to satisfy all of the hierarchy’s levels for an employee, it doesn’t mean that your employee will stay happy forever. Every workplace is in a constant state of flux, and small variations in management style or job specification can disrupt the balance. Larger changes such as company mergers, new employment contracts or changes in conditions can have a much greater impact.

As in the classic board game ‘Snakes and Ladders’, the knock on effects of changes in policy, environment and human interactions can see your employees tumble back down the pyramid.

To add to the complexity, human nature means that an initiative which once satisfied an individual can soon become the “new normal.” The best and most ambitious people in your organisation are likely to seek more autonomy, more recognition, higher status and increased rewards.  As a leader, you cannot afford to take your eye off of the job satisfaction ball.

Momentum is key

Conferences offer an excellent opportunity to stimulate the involvement and engagement of key people, by sharing information and future plans for the business and presenting new products and services. On the other hand, incentives are clearly a great way to encourage employees to strive for more, as team and individual performance improvement enable greater recognition and rewards.

Travel incentives are seen by many as the ultimate award for top performers. Prestigious group travel programmes not only motivate existing employees to achieve, they also help to attract and recruit the next intake of top achievers. Top incentive award winners are driven by their egos and will want to celebrate their success. They will share the images and impressions of their travel award with friends on Instagram and Facebook, as well as in person. Spending time in a foreign country can also boost and expand creativity. In fact, research studies have shown that people are often at their most creative when spending time in a different setting and this can enhance their productivity when they return to work.

A recent article by SITE (Society for Incentive Travel) stated that for every dollar spent in travel, business benefited from an average of $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits. According to the Harvard Business Review, cash is the most expensive way to reward employees and travel is the most economical.

Incentive travel programmes are designed to reflect the lifestyle and interests of your target audience, ensuring the elements that will motivate the particular individuals are pulled to the forefront. Working with an experienced event management specialist allows you to deliver something truly amazing. Most companies, whatever their size, can benefit from offering personalised travel incentives.

Maslow’s theory provides a useful, practical insight into the factors affecting job satisfaction. Its application will help to deliver business performance improvement, through enhanced employee morale, with incentive travel being a powerful way of rewarding the top performers who play a key part in your company’s success.