The idea of investing in employees beyond giving them their wages is relatively new. Before, people simply cash in on their rendered hours and go. Now, employers and HR leaders also face the pressure of providing “the perks” — the things that drive job satisfaction and employee engagement. To attract and keep people in this day and age, we’re expected to give them sources of motivation, commitment, and focus. And those ought to come on top of what they get during payday.
Where does this expectation come from? Research says that much of it has to do with how we’ve come to perceive our jobs. Nowadays, a lot of employees are finding work to be a depleting and disheartening experience. One report shows that only 13% of employees across 142 countries feel engaged at work. Experts claim this is caused mainly by two things: increased competition and technology. We’re forced to stand out in a tough job market, all while being exposed to an endless flood of information and requests that we feel obliged to slog through even at ungodly hours.
How do we ensure happiness and engagement in the workplace despite these challenges? In the latest Happy Hour for HR, positive organizational psychology expert Ruben Chaumont presented a great solution: addressing the core needs of employees. Ruben helped us revisit what The Energy Project and the Harvard Business Review discovered in a survey, which asked more than 12,000 employees (in different industries) what engaged and inspired them to perform well at work. The results show that employees become more committed and productive when companies cater to their needs in four areas: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Let’s take a look at what each area of needs pertains to.
Physical needs refer to the things that help us loosen up and recharge so we could be at our best once we get back to work. The survey’s results tell us that taking intermittent breaks positively affects the ability to focus. Employees who said that they take a break every 90 minutes reported a 30% higher level of focus than those who have zero to one break during their shift. The former also had a 46% higher level of health and well-being compared to the rest of the population.
As it turns out, encouraging employees to take breaks comes with a great payoff: loyalty. The survey reveals that those who felt encouraged by their bosses to take a breather from time to time are more than twice as likely to stay with the company. This approach was also reported to double employees sense of health and well-being.
Moreover, people who claimed to work beyond 40 hours, along with those who said that they work more continuously than their peers, reported to feel worse and less engaged in the workplace.
Making your people feel safe, appreciated and cared for goes a long way. In the survey, employees who said that they had supportive supervisors reported to be 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization. They also claimed to be 67% more engaged.
In Asia, having colleagues who are ready to extend support has emerged as a key source of happiness and motivation for young employees. A study by Jobstreet.com and jobsDB shows that being with good colleagues is one of the two key things that make fresh graduates happy at work.
Our minds are in the best shape to work when we are given the opportunity to focus. The same is true when we have the freedom to choose how, where, and when we can get our tasks done.
Employees who said that they were given both flexibility and the means to focus reported an almost 50% greater capacity to think creatively. Those who had the liberty to choose their schedule also said that their mental needs were addressed.
The word “spiritual” in this context does not necessarily mean the same as “religious.” Rather, it refers to the aspect of our work where meaning and purpose come from. Our spiritual needs are met when we think we’re doing something we’re good at, something we really enjoy doing. They don’t become fulfilled unless we know that our work will be beneficial to the company and to other people.
According to the survey, employees who said that they derive meaning and significance from their roles reported to be more than three times as willing to stay with their companies. Given this result, addressing spiritual needs emerged to have greatest impact on employee engagement. That’s among all the actions that are recommended by the study.
The survey conducted by The Energy Project and the Harvard Business Review concluded that meeting even one area of your employees’ core needs can have dramatic effects. It improves all of the factors that determine a person’s work performance. The more areas of needs you meet, the more engaged and satisfied your employees will be.
As HR leaders, we should devote an ample amount of time, energy, and thought to planning how we’ll answer to our employees’ needs. Because once our company achieves the engagement, loyalty, job satisfaction and positive energy that it hopes for, there’s no telling when we and everyone else will stop reaping the benefits.