Article By Dr Lulwa Al Mutlaq, President, Golden Trust
Motivation is one of the biggest issues in organizations today and especially in SMEs. SMEs mostly run by one person who would like to establish his or her company and make it reputable and profitable. Having that in mind, entrepreneurs and business owners will be busy securing business deals and most of the times will unintentionally ignore their needs and the needs of people around. They will forget that employee and self have priority needs which are to be satisfied beside the need to receive the pay cheque at the end of the month.
Therefore, motivating employees especially in SMEs requires meeting specific needs. Understanding that people have different needs to satisfy and be motivated to achieve goals will ensure business continuity and success. I refer here to Abraham Masolw’s hierarchy of needs and try to apply its principles to SMEs as little attention was noticed. I will explain those needs and link it to employees needs in SMEs with an aim to encourage business owners to meet those so they will have organizations with better future.
First; Physiological needs. These are basic needs such as need for food, drink and fresh air. These are most of the times ignored as the focus is on the work itself and getting the job done. Employees forget sometimes to eat or drink due to the fact that the want to finish work and get deals to be appraised highly. While we recognize the importance of work and its accomplishment, we also need to appreciate the needs for drinking, eating and fresh air at work. Basic needs, is the first level of needs which require attention and appreciation by business owners. Needs for basic life requirements which can be secured through a decent salary where employee can live decent life will certainly keep him/her motivated.Meeting such basic needs is essential to keep employee motivated to carry out responsibilities and show good performance.
Second; Safety and Security needs, where employees need to feel secure, safe and see a plan for their career at organization. This level of needs remain one of the important motivator that encourages employees to relax, enjoy and love what they do. This aspect was rarely given attention by employer. Time for counseling, guidance and career planning is absent as employer has no time to sit and discuss issues and challenges. Running after business is a first priority that make employee left alone without assurance of their future career. Assuring employees that their job at the company will have a great future is absent due to setting business priorities. Lack of attention to these needs will reduce the level of employee’s motivation in SMEs.
Third; Social needs; needs for partnership and support with and from business owner, colleagues, suppliers, clients. Business Owner pays little or no attention to meetings, discussions, networking although these will strengthen the business, professional and personal relationship with employees. Not because they do not want to; but the focus is always on business deals, financial gains and less on social needs.It is normal that Business owners become upset when they see people socializing at the workplace. They see that focusing on work is more important than networking. Some rooms for employee to share and network will definitely energize them and enhance their knowledge and insights as well. Social media has taken over the role of face to face socialization and today we see people socializing through mobiles, PCs, IPads, etc. These social media again create a feeling of discomfort that makes some Business Owner take an action of stopping these means and tools from entering organization. They claimed that disconnecting internet access, limiting the use of mobile phones will ensure employees’ focus on work. Business owners need to encourage employees on how to use social media to enhance business and achieve their objectives especially with those who are social media addicts.
Fourth; Self-esteem (self-respect) is another need that requires more attention by business Owner. Unless the first three basic needs are satisfied, we will find that employees lack self-esteem and self-respect. Low salary, no or limited benefits, limited or no opportunity to socialize, less chances for development, training and career advancement can be reasons for dissatisfaction. Also they can be a source of inability to be self confident on communicating skills and knowledge. Letter of appreciation, recognition, promotion, increments and awards will promote self-esteem. Less attention to this needwill automatically affect employees’ capability of doing excellent job and at the end business will suffer.
The final and the most difficult need to be satisfied is the Self Actualization as it requires attainment of the first four needs working in SMEs. Unless employees have met all their needs, self actualization will not be fulfilled. Self actualization is the highest level of needs and most of employees keep changing employers in search for meeting this level of need. Employees who developed certain qualities such as patience, continuous learning, self-motivation and work with a boss who is able to pass knowledge and build leadership skills will only become close to what he or she dreams to become and contribute in business success.This is what we call self-actualized employee.
The above five needs are seriously critical to SMEs and require attention. If it is coupled with Self-motivation then success will be achieved. Business Owners must spare time and efforts to recognize and understand the needs of each employee and motivate employees to meet those needs. From experience I can say that have self-actualized SME business owner will certainly attract and developed self-actualized employees. Moreover, business owner must looked after the missing needs to ensure having employees who are satisfied and self-actualized and be with him or her at the top.
Recognizing that self-motivation is the key and must be created from within and all extrinsic factors are secondary to development, growth and success; business owners’ positive thinking and employee’s proactive acts are must in order to reach self actualization.