In this modern day working world, it’s easy to overlook a simple human need that can make a huge difference to our personal, professional and academic lives. That is, the need to feel valued.

In 1943, the psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper titled ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’. In his paper, Maslow outlined a concept he named our ‘hierarchy of needs’ – a pyramid shaped diagram which represents what humans need to grow.

At the base of the pyramid are basic needs, such as food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security. At the top of the pyramid are self-fulfilment needs, for example achieving our potential. Among those categories in the middle, one was described by Maslow as ‘esteem needs’, such as the feeling of prestige or the feeling of accomplishment.

To feel valued, whether it’s at home, in the workplace or in the classroom, is to feel a sense of personal accomplishment. We need to feel valued in order to grow, which makes it the responsibility of educational and business leaders like us to create an environment in which our employees and students can feel accomplished.

The former American broadcast journalist Barbara Walters once explained that “To feel valued, to know, even if only once in a while, that you can do a job well is an absolutely marvelous feeling”.

That “marvelous” feeling, which Walters describes aptly, is the fuel for personal growth and professional development. If our students and our employees feel good about what they’re doing, their productivity levels will rise, and their personal and professional well-being will improve as a result.

There are lots of ways we can make each other feel valued. In the workplace, a simple ‘well done’ can make a big difference. Acknowledging the importance of our staff to our business is a key step in making them feel valued.

In the classroom, teachers are well versed in delivering positive feedback to help motivate students. But it’s important that students feel valued as people, not just as learners. Educational establishments should get to know their students, and help them to feel valued beyond the classroom. For example, by offering strong welfare services, arranging leisure events, and being supportive in other aspects of life.

The same principles go for our home lives as well. We should all make our families, friends, neighbours and communities feel valued. That way, we can all move forward together as a more cohesive, positive society.

Making others feel valued is easy, but incredibly effective. All it requires are positive thoughts and actions. By making each other feel valued, we can improve our well-being, our productivity, and our lives.