Self-esteem pertains to how people feel about themselves and how they evaluate themselves (Bandura, 1977; Baron & Greenberg, 1990).

This is the part of the self that is concerned with self-evaluation Opens in new window or the judgment people make about themselves.

Hence, self-esteem Opens in new window is “the sense of feeling worthwhile” that plays an important role in a person’s life (Dubrin, 1994: 80), since it determines whether they hold positive or negative attitudes about themselves (Dubrin 1994).

Several studies conclude that employee empowerment Opens in new window can enable employees to raise their self-esteem (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990; Spreitzer, 1995, Burke et al., 2014).

Individuals who have high self-esteem tend to evaluate themselves positively and more favorably, because they believe they have the traits and qualities needed to do the job, and view themselves as valued resources.

In contrast, individuals who have low self-esteem evaluate themselves negatively and less favorably because of their belief that they lack the desired traits and qualities required for task performance.

Obviously, individuals with high self-esteem are essential in an empowered organization because it allows them to take risks, accept responsibility and be resilient (Thomas & Velthouse, 1990; Joo & Shim, 2010).

Thus, managers should regard self-esteem highly at work, especially if employees are expected to be creative, imaginative and take risks on an organization’s behalf.

Recognizing this, Yoon et al. (1996) point out that it is important that efforts and contributions of employees are appreciated and rewarded, as this satisfies their need for approval, affiliation and self-esteem.

All individuals have a need for a high evaluation of themselves, or self-esteem, and this is illustrated by Maslow (1954: 90):

All people in our society … have a need or desire for a stable, firmly based, usually high evaluation of themselves, for self-respect, or self-esteem and for the esteem of others. These needs may therefore be classified into two subsidiary sets. These are, first, the desire for strength, for achievement, for adequacy, for mastery and competence, for confidence, in the face of the world, and for independence and freedom (Allport, 1937). Second, we have what we may call the desire for reputation or prestige (defining it as respect or esteem from other people), status, dominance, recognition, attention, importance, or appreciation (Maslow, 1954: 90).

In this respect, it is interesting to note Maslow’s (1943) conceptualization of human needs in organizations, from basic needs such as physiological Opens in new window and safety needs Opens in new window to personal development and growth needs, namely, self-esteem Opens in new window and self-actualization needs Opens in new window (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).

Interestingly, neo-modernism is based on the argument that people work in organization for a variety of reasons, and not just for economic reward, but also

  • individual satisfaction,
  • membership of a social group,
  • sense of belonging to an organization,
  • having a say in the running of the organization.

And for organizations to be effective, account needs to be given to these different aspects of human motivation’ (McAuley et al., 2007: 102).

Clearly, these aspects of human motivation have resonance with Maslow’s (1943) theory Opens in new window and interestingly the discipline of social work.

Hence, it is important for management to pay attention to the argument that some people are motivated by higher level intrinsic needs (Conger and Kanungo, 1988).

Furthermore, Bernstein (2003: 75) implies that when intrinsic rewards such as ‘feedback, mastery or self-knowledge’ are valued more than extrinsic rewards such as ‘money, status, promotion’ people are thought to be more ‘empowered’. Thus, managers should regard self-esteem highly at work, especially if employees are expected to be creative, imaginative and take risks on an organization’s behalf.

    The research data for this literature have been adapted from the manual:
  1. The Psychology of Employee Empowerment: Concepts, Critical Themes and a ... By Rozana Ahmad Huq