Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Having no motivation to work can be as frustrating as it is puzzling. There isn’t always a clear reason, like a bad boss or boring, repetitive tasks causing office worker burnout. But whatever the cause, lack of motivation can manifest in many ways: feeling overwhelmed, fighting to pay attention, or doom scrolling through social media.

But the end result of failing to complete your tasks remains a problem.

The COVID-19 pandemic did nothing to help this long-standing career issue. Whether you’re readjusting to office life or still adapting to a distributed workforce, you may find yourself or people around you are getting desperate to keep their motivation levels up.

But perhaps “motivation” as a concept should be reexamined, or even broken down into smaller components for a clearer solution. Specifically, consider whether it’s work satisfaction or work engagement that you struggle with.

Everyone wants to do what they love. But regardless of career satisfaction, there are inevitably days when you’re more productive than others. Is that because you’re dissatisfied? Or disengaged? And how can we tell the difference, not only for ourselves, but to help the people we manage stay motivated?

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Want to leverage Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a leader? Try this short course to see how the theory can be applied in practical work scenarios.

Tadahiro Wakasugi is a lecturer at GLOBIS University and a specialist in leadership development and organizational behavior. He also conducts research about well-being at work, which he discusses in his GLOBIS Unlimited course, Improving Work Engagement. The course explores why you may feel bored or unchallenged in your work, how to find your motivation, and why companies nowadays are so interested in measuring work engagement.

Below is a transcribed excerpt of his course.

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Work engagement is a robust predictor of job performance.

Tadahiro Wakasugi

3 Indicators of Work Engagement

Tadahiro Wakasugi:

Work engagement means a positive, motivational state of mind that is characterized by three things:

  • Vigor
  • Dedication
  • Absorption

So you’re really engaged in what you’re doing. You’re really dedicated to your work. That’s the stage of work engagement.

Why is it so important to me? Why is it so important to all of us? Because work engagement is a robust predictor of job performance.

Work engagement is more proactive.

Tadahiro Wakasugi

The Difference between Work Satisfaction and Work Engagement

Wakasugi: Now, traditionally, organizations were interested in measuring job satisfaction. But these days, they’re trying to understand work engagement more. Now, what’s the difference between the two?

Job satisfaction and work engagement are both positive states, right?

Now, the difference is that job satisfaction can be passive. You don’t do anything at work, but you can feel satisfied. You feel, “Oh yes, this is really great!” But you’re not doing anything at all!

But do you think this state leads to job performance? No.

So from this perspective, work engagement is the more robust predictor of job performance, as I mentioned earlier.

That’s why organizations are more interested in looking at work engagement. Work engagement is more proactive. These proactive attitudes are very important to generate results.

Work engagement actually leads to creativity. Work engagement leads to positive organizational behaviors. Work engagement leads to commitment to organizations.

Tadahiro Waksugi

3 Ways to Measure Work Engagement and Increase Motivation

Wakasugi: So how can we measure work engagement? You can measure three things:

  • The levels of vigor, the levels of energy employees have
  • Dedication—how much are you dedicated to your work?
  • Absorption—are you absorbed?

So looking at these three dimensions, we can measure the levels of work engagement of employees.

Work engagement actually leads to creativity. Work engagement leads to positive organizational behaviors. Work engagement leads to commitment to organizations.

So basically, work engagement leads to all of the positive kinds of behaviors that you really want to see in organizations.

Think about people who are really helpful to others. Think about people who are committed to their work. They will produce better results. This is the mechanism.

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