As a business owner or manager it is important to make sure you’re meeting employee needs. And maybe you’re thinking, “Well I pay them, isn’t that enough?”. Perhaps for some employees it is, but likely not all. Being a good manager means helping employees achieve actualization.
What Is Actualization?
So, what is actualization? “Actualization” is a psychological term, referring back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The basic premise – humans only reach their full potential if they meet basic physiological, safety, belonging and esteem needs.
The latest World Happiness Report indicates that about half of the world’s working population indicates satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. However, this also means that half of the working population is unsatisfied and unhappy with the workplace. And perhaps this relatively dismal percentage in workplace satisfaction is due to the unfulfillment of those employees’ basic needs. At least in any sort of tangible, sufficient fashion. As a manager, connecting with your employees means understanding your employee’s motivation.
Different Employees, Different Needs
Now, complicating this is that various employees have different needs. Or, at least different expressions of the same basic needs. No two people are the same and neither are their innate desires or motivations. One employee may have a need to feel that they are playing an important role in the company. However, another may simply require fair and adequate compensation for services rendered. Still yet, another may simply want a comfortable office setup.
If the person in the latter example feels that they are not able to meet their basic physiological needs based upon their income (i.e. – if they cannot pay for food, shelter, etc.), then the workplace will not have helped their actualization process, but rather hindered it. And in the end, this will likely result in a diminished work output. Whether because of a deep-seated resentment for their employer or because they have to take and focus on a second job.
Sadly, I’ve had personal experience with this type of situation in previous jobs and can attest to the difficulty of finding satisfaction in a company that does little to nothing to meet the employees’ needs but only seeks to maximize shareholder return. However, opposite this, employers who focus on meeting employee needs invest in their own wellbeing at the same time. Because fulfilled workers serve as brand ambassadors. They become more loyal and driven to fulfill the mission of the company.
Employee Needs Surveys
Let’s assume you recognize the benefit of helping to meet your employees’ needs. And perhaps you want to do something about it but don’t know where to start. What do you do? Well, depending upon the size of your organization, corporation or otherwise, you might find that this process looks different. Of course, a small startup can do more to be personal with each and every employee than can a large, hundreds-of-thousands-of-workers corporation. But, a large, successful enterprise might also have the ability to better compensate its workers or stress why vacation is important than a small startup does. Regardless, both retain a means and an obligation to help its employees feel a sense of achievement, of importance, of safety, and of actualization.
Perhaps the best place to start is by recognizing what various needs your employees have, and maybe even attempting to understand why they have those specific needs. A simple needs survey or even a Personality Test (my favorite is Myers-Briggs) can help employers or direct managers better understand the motivation of the employees they supervisor and meet the needs of individual employees in a way that helps improve workplace performance.
Employee needs should never be overlooked. Therefore, this should be an important factor for an organization’s management to consider. If you find this subject interesting or recognize that your company might have a need to better understand its employees’ needs, I suggest reading our blog on autonomy at work.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated March 14, 2023