Posted on: August 28, 2020 Grow CPA practice, Team

Are you familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?


In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called “A Theory of Human Motivation”, and later in 1954, the book Motivation and Personality. Maslow’s theories made sense to millions, and are still studied and widely accepted today.

More recently, I got reacquainted with the concept through Chip Conley, a successful hotelier in the Bay area who applied it to his struggling hotel chain to turn it into one of the largest and most successful hotel chains there is. If you are looking for a good book to read during summer, get his that he co-authored with Tony Hsieh titled: PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow



The most basic needs are physiological in nature -- such as needing air, water, food.

People need these things to survive more than anything else. Once we have our physiological needs met, we seek the next level: safety. We look to protect ourselves. To early man, that meant sheltering in caves and fashioning spears to keep wild animals at bay.

Today, it takes other forms, such as security systems and insurance policies. From there, humans seek love and a sense of belonging – family, friendship, community. With those needs met, we are free to seek things that give us a sense of self-esteem, and finally, self-actualization – us at our peak, high achievers with a degree of personal autonomy.

Most of us are driven to achieve this level – our best selves. 

I and so many others around the globe believe Maslow was onto something. 

Our employees are people, too, and they have needs. As practice owners, we’d be wise to keep that, and Maslow’s pyramid, in mind. 

If you can be a major player in helping your team members reach self-actualization, you can cultivate immense trust and loyalty. Think about what a strong position we’re in to do so. 



We help meet their most basic needs by providing a competitive salary that puts food on the table. 



We contribute to their safety by offering benefits like health insurance, and that paycheck also helps keep a roof over the employee’s head, sheltering them from life’s storms, literally. 



We’re also in a position to give them a sense of community and belonging if we make the effort.

We can model behavior and create a firm culture that encourages honesty, respect, compassion, and camaraderie.

We can also bring our practices into the wider community by participating in charitable events and giving our teams an opportunity to feel they’re taking part in making a difference. 



We can seed our employee’s self-esteem by taking the time to discover and acknowledge their strengths, and offer opportunities to build on those strengths.

Give employees a chance to show you what they can do.

Challenge them and let them know that you believe in their ability to step up to the plate.

Seek their input and let them know that what they think and do matter. 



An employee living his or her best life will be an asset to your practice.

Having fulfilled their needs at every other ascending level, they will bring to their work integrity, creativity, confidence, and high performance.

As they become more exceptional individuals, they will bring more to benefit your practice. 


Consider keeping an image of Maslow’s pyramid in a place where you can regularly see it. It will serve as a reminder to continually find ways to meet your employees’ higher needs, so they can bring to your practice their highest potential. 



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