Many leaders are unaware of the needs and concerns of their workforce. Unmet needs produce strong negative feelings and resentment. These employees become complainers, cynics, and faultfinders. They resist change, and they disengage from the culture and all initiatives. They “just work here,” and they only do enough work to keep from getting into trouble. If they fail in this outcome, they will demand more money, more benefits, or unusual work arrangements. This is the mindset that they come to work with every day. Who wants to hire or retain “talent” such as this? Leaders must realize that these negative behaviours are the employees’ way of compensating for the positive emotional fulfillment they are missing from their job. Leaders cannot throw money at this problem, as that solution will bring more difficulties.
Research in human resources and talent management has identified the following employee needs that, when met, lead to high levels of engagement and retention:
1. Inclusion and belonging.
People have a fundamental need to be in healthy and supportive relationships. At work, this includes being part of the discussion and decision making that affects their job.
2. Appreciation and Recognition.
We all have an emotional need to be appreciated and recognized for who we are as a person as well as for our gifts, talents, and abilities.
3. Challenge and Achievement.
Having challenging work provides us the opportunity to use the best of our gifts, talents, and abilities. Data suggests that every day a vast majority of people go to a job and hate it simply because it does not challenge them mentally or give them an opportunity for achievement.
4. Trust and Accountability.
Productive relationships cannot exist without trust. We need to know that we can count on others and that we are all playing on a level field. Gallup studies confirm that trust is the number one trait employees seek from their superiors, followed by compassion, stability and hope.
5. Growth and Learning.
Continuing education and training dollars is often the first sacrificial offering in a cost-cutting initiative. But in fact, learning and development are fundamental emotion-based needs. What’s more, in today’s constant changing work environments, learning and improving our skills is a must.
6. Power and Control.
Everyone wants to be empowered enough to control their own work processes and to have a say in how those processes should change.
7. Meaning and Purpose.
People want and need to know that their daily work contributes to a larger effort, one that is more valuable than merely making money. In today’s complex, ambiguous and fast changing organizations, meaning and purpose is easily lost. Take health care work for example. It has intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose. The irony, however, is that countless health care workers (and professionals) trudge off to their jobs every day not recognizing that what they do has so much meaning. They are mentally overwhelmed, physically exhausted, and emotionally depleted by the constant stress and demands of their job.
In today’s environment of complex, ambiguous, and constantly changing organizational landscapes, negative human energy is possibly the greatest threat to organizational performance and success. Attaining emotional awareness and learning the skill of Positive Presence will enable you to easily recognize when employee needs are not being met.