Understanding Employee Needs: Key to Creating a Highly Motivated Workforce

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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.

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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.

This post originally appeared on CultureUniversity.com.

Richard Barrett is an author, speaker and internationally recognized thought leader on the evolution of human values in business and society. He is the creator of the internationally recognized Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT) which have been used to support more than 5,000 organizations in 60 countries on their transformational journeys. To date, more than 5,000 change agents, consultants and coaches have been trained by the Barrett Values Centre to use the Cultural Transformation Tools in over 50 countries. (For more information www.richardbarrett.net)


3 Comments on “Understanding Employee Needs: Key to Creating a Highly Motivated Workforce

  1. The research presented is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory and McClelland’s Theory of Needs. Research that has been available for many generations.
    IMO the key to employee motivation is presented in McClelland’s book The Achieving Society. McClelland thought economic progress can be enhanced by telling children stories of achievement. Fool them into thinking work is a place to achieve.
    You have a great achievement at work. The company posts your story for all employees to read and share with their children. This is the long term benefit to society.
    In the short term, the benefits to the company is great. Upmost, you just told all employees, “If you have an idea and need help, ask the heroes in these stories.”

  2. The omnipresence of the word “opportunities” IN this post is testament to the wisdom OF this post. Thank you for an excellent read; will be a pleasure to share it …


    Christopher Watkins
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