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WHAT MAKES LOW WAGE EARNERS TICK?

Don Phin Don Phin , 2/24/2014
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Managers often make the mistake of thinking that low wage earners have the same motivations as they do. If you harken back to high school or college and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll remember that the most basic level of need is “survival.” This motivates most low wage earners. An extra dollar or two an hour might represent a “living wage” that keeps them on the job.

The next levels of need are “security” and then “belonging.” Financial security involves education and habits. That’s why it’s beneficial to open your books to all employees, talk about their careers and financial expectations, and bring in financial experts to advise them. To give low wage earners the opportunity to “belong” to something, you might also support company sports teams and other extracurricular activities.

Very few low wage earners feel that management acknowledges their efforts. Bear in mind that acknowledgement costs absolutely nothing. A note from the boss, an announcement to the workforce, or a Friday afternoon pizza party can all pay enormous dividends.

Finally, don’t assume that you know what motivates low wage earners. To find out, ask them.