Bev White

My name is Bev White and I am the CEO of Harvey Nash Group, a $1bn global technology recruitment, IT solutions and leadership services group with 36 offices across the USA, Europe and Asia

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in today’s world

I have to confess that it’s been a long time since I gave thought to this quite old, but relevant tool that maps the different priorities of human needs – from basic needs like food, through to sophisticated ones like self-fulfilment.

In the earliest stages of the pandemic it felt to me that it was all about the physiological and safety needs. This was unfamiliar territory, and felt deeply uncomfortable at times - stressful too. Many of us felt anxious and concerned. Whilst for many countries this need has now subsided, in too many regions it still remains the highest concern and its heart breaking to see how so many people are affected.

As the pandemic progressed, we paid a lot of attention to connecting and purpose. I saw many wonderful examples across our businesses of the many ways we supported each other. In pub quizzes, daily check ins, yoga classes, wellbeing sessions, Zoom calls with loved ones, doorstop drops of food and thoughtful little gifts reminding those we love that they are always in our thoughts. At Christmas managers dressed up in Santa gear and visited the doorsteps of colleagues with gifts and reminders that we all belong to something more than just us.

As we went through several waves of lock downs and restrictions some of us got to occasionally go to work in the office, respecting rules put in place to keep us safe. How happy and upbeat we were, seeing colleagues, our friends, and remembering just how good it is to be together, to be seen as well as heard. We have been building development plans tailored on individual needs, planning career paths so that colleagues can achieve their career goals. We are aspiring once more for ‘self-actualization’ in Maslow’s language. In mine I would say that we are recognising great talent and creating the moments that matter where we can all be our best selves.

One lesson I will never forget is that we can never take life for granted. One day we can be planning great things and the next we are focused on the basic essentials in life that keep us safe and enable us to look after ourselves. I know that the last year has changed me in many ways, made me stronger, made me pause more, think deeper, listen harder. I know from speaking to many colleagues that each of us has our own lessons and things that we will carry forward with us in the life ahead. Maslow really has a place in our world today, at least as a reminder of what we value and how we can grow.  

A recent speech from the chief of the world health organisation, Tedros Adhanon, really struck a chord with me and many I have spoken with. He said “We are not safe until we are all safe”. That has stayed with me in my thoughts throughout the weeks that have followed. In Harvey Nash Group and throughout the world we are always going to be stronger working together for a common purpose.

As we head towards the weekend keep safe and well.

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