If you’re on a quest to build a better workplace, think about your organization and your people. What do your employees need to contribute their best work? What does your business need to succeed? And do you know how to align human and workplace needs?
Human needs in the workplace
Employees are humans. Humans generally want to contribute their best work, and need to believe their work matters in order to do so. They need to be an accepted part of a tribe. They need to feel empowered to get work done. They need their contributions appreciated, and their ideas and opinions respected. Here are the five emotional human needs in the workplace:
I matter I need to feel that my organization has a worthwhile purpose. And I need to understand how my tasks contribute and matter to this.
I belong I need to feel part of the tribe. I need my personal values to align with the widely shared workplace values.
I’m enabled I need easy access to the tools, information, and processes to do my work. I need clarity on how to find help, get work done, and make decisions.
I contribute I need to have my accomplishments recognized. I need to know that my teammates appreciate and value my contributions.
I’m respected I need to feel respected. I must be confident that I can share my thoughts and ideas without fear of unnecessary judgement.
When these five emotional needs are met in the workplace, people become engaged and do their best work.
Organizational needs in the workplace
Similarly, companies that are thriving, profitable, and resilient tend to satisfy a set of organizational needs:
Purpose – Our organization is on a mission that is greater than just profit. We are building something valuable and enduring.
Culture – We have shared values and expectations about how things work. We treat each other well and act as though we’re one tribe.
Clarity – We make clear how the organization works, what needs to be done, the tools and resources we have available, and how we’re making progress.
Recognition – We know people work hard and contribute in both big and small ways. We make an effort to recognize these contributions.
Trust – When we trust one another we become more fully invested in each other’s growth and create a shared safe space to work.
How to align human and workplace needs
It happily turns out that the five emotional human needs and the five workplace needs align, as this chart demonstrates.
The chart is similar in spirit to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but without the hierarchical structure. At Jostle we take the time to understand both the key human needs and organizational needs of thriving workplaces. We’ve done our homework - our most successful and resilient customers show us time and time again that alignment of human and workplace needs is at the core of long-term employee engagement and organizational health.
Here are some best practices leaders can apply to strengthen these core needs in workplaces and build people-centric companies.
1. Openly communicate the company’s purpose
Employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel informed about the direction of the company. Managers can keep employees up-to-date on company changes, progress, and future plans through an open door policy, intranet announcements, online discussions or town hall meetings. Ask for employees’ feedback in an environment of open dialog, and employees will likely feel more empowered and motivated in their work.
2. Create opportunities for connection and collaboration
Encourage employees to share their stories through an online platform or in-person events, whether it’s a success story or lessons they’ve learned. Such activities can create community and connection between employees that builds a company culture of trust and collaboration. Ideally, such sharing will exemplify company values, and it may be more powerful because it comes from employees rather than “top-down.”
3. Keep information organized and available
Incomplete information can leave your employees scratching their heads and asking, “What have we decided? What do I need to do next? What resources do I have? What tools and information are available?” Instead, make information easily accessible so your team can do its work well. For example, in meetings, take notes and store them in a central place that’s familiar to all employees. Upload important documents to your intranet, so people can find what they need when they need it, instead of spending time searching or asking colleagues.
4. Recognize good work
Saying “thank you” is a simple and powerful way to show people that you appreciate them and their work. Appreciating them in public is even more powerful. During your meetings or through your online communication platform, “shout-out” to your teammates who’ve done something specific that’s made a difference for you. Sometimes recognizing small things can have a big impact.
5. Build a culture of trust
As a leader, you must demonstrate your commitment to creating a culture of trust. Be transparent in your decision-making. When employees understand your reasoning, and feel trusted by you with information, they are more likely to bring this trust to their relationships with you and their colleagues.
If you work to strengthen the bridges between human and workplace needs, you’ll be rewarded with engaged employees and a better workplace.
How does your organization honor both human and workplace needs?
Editor’s Note: Our mission at Meeteor is to help our customers and blog readers have more effective meetings and build healthier workplace cultures. We invite like-minded experts to share their practices with our readers. Brad and Bev of Jostle are committed to creating better workplaces through a new kind of intranet that addresses the five human needs in the workplace. The Jostle® intranet facilitates shared communication and collaboration between team members of all levels. By aligning human and workplace needs, Jostle achieves five times the engagement than other traditional intranets.