Human Needs

Need: It is a lack or deficit of something within the systems or organism.


A need may be defined as a condition requiring the supply of relief or the lack of anything required, desired or useful. A need is also a lack or deficit of something within the system or organism. So it can be said that a need is a personal, unfulfilled vacancy that determines and organizes all mental processes and all behavior in the direction of its attainment.

Needs are not as simple as they often seem to be. There are many problems which are to be handled simultaneously, like immediate needs of hunger, thirst, sleep, shelter. Apart from this, there is also the problem of long range personal goal of job security. These needs may vary from person to person. For some people, this complexity of needs makes life exciting; for others, it makes life too burdensome and difficult.

It has to be noted that when a lack or deficit arises in the individual it is the beginning of a chain of events. Something happens, some behavior occurs. It might engage the person in an activity directed towards a goal. Arriving at goal satisfies the need. On the other hand, unsatisfied needs produce tension.

Needs can create tension – mental strain, nervous anxiety, physiological stretching and social disequilibrium; and these tensions cannot be released till some wants are satisfied. When the individual is unable to satisfy needs, frustration is the result. A need for food produces tension in the stomach, and this tension forces one to seek something to satisfy hunger. And when he actually eats something or even takes a tea or plain water, his tension is released and he feels relaxed.

Needs, drives, urges, sentiments, expectations, emotions wants or motives are often used interchangeably. Needs drive tensions, expectations and values bringing about changes in human behavior. It is therefore necessary to understand needs. Every individual who works for others (like Managers) should identify his own personal needs and the needs and expectations of those with whom he works.

Basic Physiological Needs:

At the lowest level are the physiological needs. Maslow explains it with the following example. For a man who is extremely hungry, no other interests exist, but food. He dreams food, he remembers food, he think about food, he perceives only food and he wants only food… freedom, love, respect, philosophy, are all of no importance, as they are useless since they fail to fill the stomach. The same is true of other physiological needs of man the needs for rest, shelter, exercise, protection from weather etc.

Safety Needs:

When physiological needs have been reasonably satisfied the next higher needs emerge, namely the safety needs. The needs for security include:

1) Any harm from the physical environment; need for shelter, protective clothing etc.
2) Safety against war, disease, crime, natural catastrophe etc
3) Protection from assaults, murder and tyranny;
4) Reserve supply of necessities of life, such as stocks for food and water
5) Economic security in the form of pension, insurance, provident fund, security of job etc.

Safety needs assume a considerable importance for very industrial employee. It is satisfied by the existence of securities like social security, fringe benefits and welfare programs.

Belonging Social or Affiliation Needs:

The social needs of a man become important only when his physiological and safety needs have been satisfied. These needs include:

1) Getting companionship
2) Seeking acceptance by his fellow beings;
3) Giving and receiving love and affection
4) Being a member of a group, club, society or nay other formal organization
5) Co-operating with others, ,
6) Protecting one’s child, infant, the weak and older people.

When many social needs are not satisfied, he behaves in a peculiar way often tends to defeat organizational objectives. He resists, becomes antagonistic, uncooperative and even hostile.

Esteem Needs:

When the belonging and affiliation needs are satisfied, then esteem needs arise. This is where individuals desire a high evaluation of themselves. These needs are concerned with:

Self esteem, comprising feeling of competence, autonomy, independence, freedom, dominance, strength, achievement, acquisition, retention, and confidence

Esteem from others includes the needs for recognition, attention importance or appreciation from other people, reputation or prestige status and power to control.

These are higher level needs, but have low priority. But any thwarting of these needs produces feeling of inferiority, weakness and of helplessness which may give rise to discouragement. This may lead an individual to resort to disruptive or immature behavior to satisfy his desire for attention. For example, the employees may engage in go-slow tactics or in arguments with their colleagues or their boss.