Three 'basic needs' that all employees crave

HR should find a way to satisfy these wants in order to beat the Great Resignation

Three 'basic needs' that all employees crave

A new study revealed that employees have "three basic needs" that employers should satisfy if they want to give their workforce a peak experience that is profound and long-lasting. These needs, as identified by O.C. Tanner's 2022 Global Culture Report, are autonomy, connection, and mastery.

"The way employers meet these needs affects how employees view their work and the organisation. Our research finds that satisfying these needs produces a strong, positive emotional response that supercharges employees’ perceptions," the report read."Fulfilling these needs also improves how people see themselves and determine their value in the workplace."

Autonomy, when satisfied, evokes an increased sense of ownership among staff, according to the report. Connection brings out a greater sense of belonging, while mastery induces a sense of usefulness.

"Those three things — autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward — are three qualities that work has to have if it is to be satisfying," said Malcolm Gladwell, researcher and author of the report.

The report later added that when organisations build a culture around these three things, combined with modern leadership, opportunity, and resources, everyday experiences of employees can be considered peak experiences.

"When organisations build a culture that fulfills these promises with the right combination of modern leadership, opportunity, and resources, employee needs are satisfied, and everyday experiences can become peak experiences," the report said.

Read more: Elevating the employee experience, one meeting at a time

Practical steps to take

The report suggested these three practical steps for employers so they can bring out peak experiences for their staff.

1. Focus on the key elements of workplace culture

O.C. Tanner's previous report identified six Talent Magnets that are important in an employee's decision to join, engage with, and stay in their current jobs. These are purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, wellbeing, and leadership. According to the report, if employers can create experiences that align the three basic needs with the Talent Magnets, then they can "dramatically increase employee need satisfaction."

Providing opportunity can satisfy the need for autonomy and mastery, according to the report. Showing appreciation and investing in wellbeing can help build connection, it added, while recognising employees' work satisfies the need for mastery. Modern leadership, according to the report, satisfies the three needs.

2. Integrate recognition to satisfy employee needs

The report zeroed in on integrating recognition in the company's culture to help meet employees' three basic needs.

"When recognition is common throughout the culture, the likelihood of achieving higher connection satisfaction increases 131% and the odds of higher mastery satisfaction improve 127%," said the report.

3. Provide modern leadership

The previous two steps bring underscore the importance of leadership in satisfying the three basic needs, this is because modern leaders can "connect their people to purpose, accomplishment, and one another." According to the report, this is why leaders should be trained on how to help employees connect their work to a larger purpose.

"Leaders should champion their employees' successes and recognize accomplishments," the report said. "Likewise, encourage leaders to mentor and help their employees network and build connections with others across the organisation."

The report suggested shared leadership and frequent one-to-one meetings to further satisfy the needs of employees on autonomy, connection, and mastery.

To hear more important insights from O.C Tanner, register for our upcoming webinar here.

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