Understanding Employee Needs: Key to Creating a Highly Motivated Workforce

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Sep 2, 2014

One of the most important tasks in creating a high-performance culture is taking care of employees’ needs.

When employees’ needs are met, and employees feel aligned with the mission, vision and values of the organization, they respond with high levels of engagement and commitment. They come to work with enthusiasm and are willing to go the extra mile to support the organization in its endeavors.

Thus it is important to address the question: What do organizations need to do to create a highly motivated workforce where employees are willing to devote a significant amount of their discretionary energy, as well as their commitment and creativity, to making the organization a success?

You must understand employee needs

I believe the research presented by Daniel Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us points us in the right direction.

  • Baseline rewards that are sufficient and fair (fulfilling some of the employees’ survival needs);
  • A congenial working atmosphere (fulfilling some of the employees’ relationship needs);
  • Freedom to make choices — autonomy (fulfilling some of the employees’ transformation needs);
  • Opportunities to pursue mastery — learn and excel in their field of expertise (fulfilling some of the employees’ self-esteem needs); and,
  • Perform duties that align with a higher purpose — (fulfilling some of the employees’ internal cohesion needs).

In other words, Pink’s research points us towards the seven stages of psychological development and the needs associated with each stage (see Table 1).

Table 1: The needs associated with the seven stages of psychological development

Levels of Development (1)The answer to the question, what do organizations need to do to create a highly motivated workforce, is as follows: Organizations need to identify the needs that motivate their employees (what they value) and create a culture that addresses these needs. The needs they have will be directly linked to the stage of development they have reached and the levels of consciousness they are operating from.

Meet employees needs to cause happiness and joy

Table 2, which builds on Table 1, provides a comprehensive list of the actions and opportunities that organizations need to focus on to serve employee’s needs at all stages of psychological development and levels of consciousness. Also listed in this table are the feelings and experiences that are associated with the satisfaction of the needs associated with each level of development (causes of happiness/joy).

Table 2: Actions and opportunities that organizations need to provide to support the full spectrum of employees’ needs.

Meeting the needs of the levels of development

It is important to recognize that not all employees are the same: Different employees will have different needs (want and value different things) depending on the levels of consciousness they are operating from.

The levels of consciousness they are operating from at any moment in time will depend on three factors: The employee’s level of psychological development; the employee’s general life circumstances; and the specific life challenges the employee is experiencing.

You can identify what employee’s value by doing a Cultural Values Assessment or using other feedback approaches.

Do you agree with these insights about creating a highly motivated workforce? What else can you add to the discussion? Please comment below.

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