Maslow and Shoes…

Maslow created that famous pyramid showing the hierarchy of human needs of physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem and finally self-actualization. Maslow jumped into my mind last night on my drive home and Zappos put him there.

I subscribe to the various Zappos blogs and follow many Zapposians (my word) on Twitter. Through what they write and do, it is apparent that everyone from Tony H. (the CEO) on down truely care about the people who work at Zappos. Just read this post, and this and this on the Inside Zappos blog by John. H. to get an indication of the company’s core values and company attitude.

It isn’t all fun and games, Zappos is obviously very successful. It is easier to count the people I know who haven’t bought from them than it is to count those who have. The blog and Twitter posts also talk of the professional development and education of its employees. It is a holistic approach to the work environment.

That brings me to Maslow. Yesterday, I gave a status of my journey out of Career Hell. Basically, right now I am stuck at the “safety” level of Maslow’s pyramid. I can provide my family shelter, food on the table and clothes on our backs and pay our bills. Our basic needs are provided for and we are able to live in relative comfort. I am very grateful for this but as anyone who has studied Maslow, after awhile, a person begins to desire for more. Family and friends notwithstand, there is no sense of belonging, despite my efforts to remain positive, my self-esteem and confidence are nil and self-actualization is nowhere on the map. (some may say I should remove myself from the situation but that is easier said than done and the topic for another day)

Now consider Zappos. As I thought of Maslow and my situation, I did. Based on what they communicate in their blogs and on Twitter, I would say Zappos is high on the Maslow pyramid, at the Esteem level and most likely at times venturing into Self-Actualization. All indications are that they do it right.

What is your Maslow model? Where does your company land on the Maslow pyramid? Are you just providing the basic physical and safety needs? Or do you respect your people, value their efforts and encourage their creativity?

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