Let’s backtrack a little.
Over the last few weeks on this blog, we’ve learned three very important things:
- Workplace tension is often the result of competing needs;
- Employees are driven by five needs of varying importance to them; and
- When those needs are unmet, employees will act out using “unskillful expressions.”
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at each of those needs: because by understanding what matters most to your employees, you are one step closer to creating sustainable energy in your organization.
The five driving (or “felt”) needs
At Juice, we believe there are five driving needs that are like oxygen to employees: if deprived of any of them, people will act out swiftly and decisively.
Do you recognize any of these needs in your workplace, amongst your workforce?
Research shows that a sense of belonging in strong social relationships is a greater predictor of one’s physical health than whether they smoke, how much their exercise, or the quality of their diet. In other words, isolation and loneliness will kill you faster than cigarettes.
Employees seeking a sense of belonging want acceptance and inclusion, identification and “insiderness,” relatedness and intimacy, and/or a connection or “fit” with others.
Every human being has a need to feel secure. When we feel threatened, our brain instantly switches off complex thought processes and sends us into protection mode.
In the workplace, a “need for security” may also refer to one’s need for safety and protection, predictability and control, consistency and clarity, and/or order and structure.
Consider freedom in the context of the uprisings we have seen in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. You can only suppress people’s freedom for so long before they will take unbelievable risks.
In a work environment, employees need autonomy and independence, mind-space and psychological “space,” decision latitude and support, and variety and change.
Every person needs to feel a sense of significance—that is, to feel respected and valued; to be affirmed and acknowledged; to feel success and achievement, and challenge and growth; to experience efficiency and productivity, and power and status.
Likewise, employees need to feel a sense of meaning. They want to have purpose in their jobs and feel they are making a difference. They need to understand and connect the dots. They need a just and fair environment.
What’s the unmet need?
How do you know which needs drive your employees, and whether or not those needs are being met?
- A good gauge is to look at scores on an engagement survey (or energy check).
- Or take a different perspective when you consider people’s behaviours. Is the micro-manager doing so because she is so buttoned down and organized? Or is it because she has a legitimate human need for security?
- When people “act out” using unskilled expressions, ask yourself “What’s the unmet need?”
What matters most?
By having a stronger sense of what matters most to your employees, you should be able to have better, more fruitful and effective conversation—helping improve the environment in which you work, and ultimately leading to better business results.