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Why Maslow’s Theory is becoming Irrelevant in this Changing Environment

As a management graduate, I am always inclined towards the principles of Organization Behaviour and it really intrigued me to learn a simple right thumb rule for defining the behaviour of any person’s corresponding mood. Classifying people in Type-A and B is always been an interesting part and then noticing their behaviour outcome as per the theories.

Recently I am performing the same habit and I noticed quite a number of flaws in these theories of Organization Behaviour. I am concentrating my views towards “The Theory of  Hierarchy of Needs” by Sir Abraham Maslow in this conversation. I would be a critique of other old-fashioned theories in my coming articles but let me take your focus as to what Maslow says.

So The Theory of Hierarchy of Needs has given the managers a tool to get the work done from people and also not let people know that they are being utilised extensively by way of motivating them. The theory explains that the human mind is made in a way that it will try to attain some sets of need first and then move forward to the next sets of need. A human tries to move upward according to the pyramid of needs.

But in this recent time of Corona Virus, I have found something amazing. People who have barely enough to eat are spending on status goods just to maintain their status in society. At the cost of limiting down their savings below the danger level. They are trying to fulfil the esteem needs before physiological or safety needs. Don’t stop relating it to this pandemic period. Even the daily wage earners quest for better goods above their standards fulfilling esteem need first. What I believe is an individual need is different than a group need of same status people. Because in a group a person shares his desire to achieve something because of the connection or affection he has with other people of the group. And the individual need gets aside against a group need.

Another point is, somehow ‘sex’ is placed in physiological need. Is Maslow meant only the act of it? Because at the age of 22 I know many virgins who have secured the bottom 3 sets of need. Secondly, it needs a partner in most of the common scenario so isn’t Maslow contradicting his flow of needs and fulfiling love or belonging need before physiological need.

So what I am suggesting is to be a general critique of Maslow’s theory, don’t use it as a simple right thumb rule to start motivating the subordinates. Because in this dynamic environment if a manager frequently tries to threaten employees to get the work done or get fired, targeting the physiological and safety needs of the person. He will end up demotivating people because of the improper work-life balance or lack of mental peace. According to me, Maslow’s need theory stops the managers’ creativity to deal with people. Yes, understanding these needs are important but society is becoming dynamic. This is not the time of ’50s when employees don’t have the choice to switch. Even governments are strong enough to actually tackle the physiological needs (excluding sex) and safety and security need of a person. And for a manager in an organization above foreman, it would be quite difficult that the subordinates are really lacking these needs for motivation. We are from the generation where parents have ours back to support us. So maybe, even a life of a fresher in this time of 21st century is starting with Esteem needs as the main focus. When we are the 1st or 2nd generation of people having strong background support from parents. Then my future daughter will be more creatively exposed and have good esteem built-in. So maybe after a few generations, Maslow’s need will attain obsolescence as people will have more self-respect to protect than the basic level needs. Moreover, the steps are being taken like – HRD ministry is now Education ministry. Human is no longer a resource to exploit by organizations. It will be the duty of the organization to give a platform to people to actualize their varied creativity.

Please comment on your understanding of the Maslow’s need theory. And also point me that is it only me who is seeing its irrelevance?

What do you think?

Written by Naman Jain

Naman Jain is a B.B.A. graduate from the Central University, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. At present, he is pursuing M.B.A. from USME, DTU. He has a keen interest in Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship. Initiation and team building are what he focuses in to get the work done. Feel free to connect with him to discuss any mundane topic.

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