The 6 building blocks of employee commitment
Employee Commitment

The 6 building blocks of employee commitment
Maslow's Hierarchy redefined as the Employee Commitment Pyramid

In 1943 Abraham Harold Maslow, a well-known psychologist presented a theory called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” He presented this concept, illustrated as a pyramid, in relation to motivation and the innate nature of humans to have certain desires. Which then later became one of the most universally accepted models of human needs over the past century¹.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Here we look at how it links to the world of SHAPE, which is itself a centrepoint of scientific models - par excellence. Underpinning every aspect of SHAPE, including survey questions, scoring systems, and associated results, SHAPE is the gateway of evidencing the very best way of going beyond scientific theory into practice.

Essential Needs; food, water, shelter and clothing form the base of the pyramid followed by the sense of safety and security. On top of these are the innate feelings of love and belonging, that help us humans build a sense of connection. Next are Esteem Needs that are related to self-respect and being recognised and well respected in your circle at home and work. As you move up the pyramid, the needs change from “must haves” to “nice to have” reflecting their relative importance.

If all the needs above are fulfilled, you ascend to the top of the pyramid and achieve self-actualisation, or simply put, “being the best that you can be” given your circumstances.

Employee Commitment Pyramid

Maslow couldn’t have predicted how his theory would be applied in the modern-day corporate ecosystem. Business analysts and researchers went on to use his theory to explain employee needs in the business world; and at SHAPE, the Hierarchy of Needs theory has been modified to what is now the Employee Commitment Pyramid². Employee commitment is the psychological attachment and loyalty an employee displays towards their organisation. Factors that lead to employee commitment can be arranged into a hierarchical pyramid as demonstrated below.

Employee Commitment Pyramid

Safety and Security

Psychological Safety is at the base of employee commitment. It consists of working without fear and intimidation, or the threat of losing their jobs. Job security and safety is a prerequisite to employee commitment. Without it, employees won’t develop loyalty towards their company.

Reward and Recognition

The next layer of the hierarchy is a sense of adequate reward and recognition. Monetary reward is an essential component in the employee-company relationship; however, money alone can’t buy commitment. For strong employee commitment, companies need to develop a balance between financial and non-financial rewards and appreciation for the effort employees put in their work. Our data shows that such employees are 30% more likely to agree with the management style of the business.


Affiliation is the feeling of belonging to a team and the company. It gives employees a sense of being heard and valued. This is essential in fostering high levels of commitment to the organisation. On the other hand, not feeling valued or heard can result in employees becoming indifferent to the organisation and those who manage it, which naturally has a negative impact on employee commitment.

Career Prospects

Further up the pyramid, we have career prospects and growth. Even if employees feel secure at work, receive good compensation, and feel valued, limited prospects for growth in the company will significantly affect employee retention and commitment. So much so that addressing all previous layers of the hierarchy becomes somewhat irrelevant.

Work-life Harmony

At the top of the pyramid lies work-life balance. Compared to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the ideal situation in the life of an employee would be to satisfy all aspects of the Employee Commitment Pyramid and have a full life outside work. When an employee has job security, safety, is adequately rewarded and recognised, feels a sense of belonging with the company, has good prospects for promotion and career growth, and maintains a good work life balance, the level of employee commitment can be maximised leading to increased performance, a positive organisational culture, and improved overall retention.

SHAPE assesses the factors that contribute to Employee Commitment by examining each aspect of the commitment pyramid. This helps companies and employees pinpoint the areas hampering commitment and take targeted action.

__¹__Mathes, Eugene W. “Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a Guide for Living.” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, vol. 21, no. 4, 1981, pp. 69–72., doi:10.1177/002216788102100406.

__²__Stum, David L. “Maslow Revisited: Building the Employee Commitment Pyramid.” Strategy & Leadership, vol. 29, no. 4, 2001, pp. 4–9., doi:10.1108/10878570110400053.

Employee Commitment