4 Ways to Manage Employees’ Needs

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We often define quality of managers by how they make us feel – how they energize and move us through encouragement, support, and inspiration. As a manager, your role is similar to an essential energy source – feeding employees’ needs and sustaining your team’s motivation. Knowing how to energize and motivate your employees requires addressing (4) of their most basic needs.

1. Am I supporting my employees’ physical well-being?

At the most fundamental level, employees need to feel that their managers care about their well-being. Employees’ most basic physical needs, such as rest, fitness, and proper nutrition, support physical health and the energy employees need to perform well. These are all needs which a manager can support through reasonable working conditions, adequate concern for well-being, and an appropriate level of consideration for work/life issues. Managers aren’t always cognizant of unmet physical needs. Additionally, they may be unaware of their coercive style’s affect on the physical well-being of employees. Numerous studies now document the correlation between negative management relations and coronary heart disease, poor mental health, among other health conditions.

2. Am I creating and contributing to a positive atmosphere?

Employees work best when there is positive energy in the work environment to meet their emotional and social needs. Employees have a need to belong, be accepted, and feel part of a team. They need a sense of security and to feel supported and respected. What this means for a manager is cultivating an environment that encourages collaboration, teamwork, and support; and striving for minimal conflict and productive working relationships, both with subordinates and among coworkers. It also means understanding that employees need acceptance and acknowledgement from others, and providing recognition. Creating positive energy doesn’t mean not addressing problems, but does mean that these problems are dealt with in a courteous, respectful, and constructive manner.

3. Am I providing enough challenge and mental stimulation?

Next, there are mental needs, which deal with challenge, personal development, and mental stimulation. Employees have needs for continuous intellectual development and cognitive stimulation. When these needs aren’t met, employees tend to become stagnant, bored, and eventually dissatisfied. Managers can support mental needs by providing intellectual challenge and opportunities for employees to expand current knowledge and thought processes; increasing employees’ ability to work creatively and independently; and offering continuous opportunities to grow new skills. Managers who energize and stretch the minds of their employees foster higher levels of engagement.

4. Do my employees understand that their work matters?

Finally, beyond mental needs, are self-actualized needs. These needs including finding meaning in our work, feeling fulfilled and that we’re making a difference, taking pride in our work and what we do, and being able to see how it impacts others and those we serve. Sometimes employees can’t see the big picture or lose sight of the mission. For these reasons, managers need to define purpose, show employees’ how their work matters, illustrate how it makes an impact, and connect individual goals and contributions to the department and organization. Employees have a basic need to understand that their work matters and is important. This purpose fuels their motivation.

There are many well-documented adverse effects that can occur when these needs go unfulfilled in the workplace. Because these needs directly impact on the energy and motivation of our workforce, as managers, we need to understand the importance of helping employees’ meet these basic needs to energize and motivate our teams.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In the series, participants will gain an understanding of their role as a supervisor as well as employment law as it relates to common supervisory issues. They will also learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance, and coaching.

Management & Leadership DevelopmentERC offers several courses in management and leadership development on topics related to communication, conflict management, performance management, project management, problem solving and general leadership. These courses can also be customized to your organization’s unique needs. For more information, please contact ckutsko@yourerc.com.