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Why leaders need to understand the seven needs of productive employees

When employee productivity spiked during 2020, many thought this trend would continue once life returned to a sense of normalcy. However, since returning to the office, many businesses are seeing lower levels of productivity and profitability from their employees. So how do we combat this problem?

The first solution we tend to leap toward is higher pay brackets. But after a certain level of income, this simply doesn’t work anymore. We have to look deeper.

Looking past the paycheck, engagement at work becomes a clear indicator. Highly engaged employees record 23 percent higher profitability than those with lower levels of engagement. They are also 87 percent less likely to leave their organization, and we are all aware that staff turnover not only kills profits, it erodes team cohesion and results.

Remember, what gets recognized gets repeated, so create a culture of acknowledging employees doing the right things.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever for leaders to focus on employee engagement and retention.

CEOs, it’s time to prioritize job satisfaction in the workplace. But the question is how to do it. By focusing on the seven human needs of employees, we can help create an engaged workforce where employees feel supported and have higher levels of job satisfaction.

Let’s break down these seven human needs.

1. Wellbeing

Physical and mental well-being is critical for any peak-performing employee. If you want high-energy, fully focused staff, they need access to healthy food, proper health care, regular exercise, mental health support and good sleep in order for them to realize their full potential at work.

2. Connection

Connection is key to engagement. Studies show that employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more engaged and see 81 percent less absenteeism than those who do not feel they have friend-like relationships in the workplace.

3. Clarity and certainty

Employees need clarity and certainty to truly understand what is expected of them, what counts as acceptable risk and how they can best succeed in their role. Another added bonus is that clarity allows for employees to become more engaged in their work.

4. Significance

Significance is crucial as your employees need to feel that their work matters and they matter as individuals. Peak-performing employees want to feel like they’re making a difference. Remember, what gets recognized gets repeated, so create a culture of acknowledging employees doing the right things.

5. Challenge

There is no growth without an element of challenge. Your employees need to be challenged in a way that balances their skills and abilities. It only takes a four percent challenge-to-skill ratio to achieve ‘flow state’, which science shows results in a 500 percent increase in employee productivity.

6. Vision

When we run out of hope, we run out of drive. As author Simon Sinek says, start with why, develop a bold vision for the company backed with an inspiring purpose and mission. Invite employees to see the bigger picture, then show them how their work contributes to it. This will, in turn, motivate them to do their level best to help achieve it.

7. Happiness

One of the most crucial human needs for peak performance employees is happiness. Happy employees are productive employees, which ultimately leads to increased profitability. According to a study by the University of Warwick, happy employees are 12 percent more productive than their unhappy counterparts. They found that, when employees are happy, they’re more creative, more motivated and more willing to take on new challenges.

And that’s not all. The same study found that happy employees take fewer sick days and are less likely to quit their jobs. Happiness is the greatest hack to employee productivity and profitability and the way to truly unlock the full potential in each and every employee.

Putting the needs in focus

Understanding the seven human needs of peak performance fosters a culture of psychological safety and is crucial for leaders who want to drive peak performance, problem solving and innovation in the workplace.

By helping employees to fulfil these needs, we can create a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged and motivated to do their best work, creating more productive and profitable teams.

We can create a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged and motivated to do their best work.

Not sure where to start? One tip can make all the difference.

Start having one-on-one meetings focused on connection. Sit with staff and discuss their life, understand what is consuming cognitive resources outside of work, the stressors preventing them from feeling safe and able to be truly present when they show up for work. Use these sessions to coach them through achieving both their career and personal goals to unlock their full potential and reap the rewards.

Once we understand what employees really need and what actually motivates them, we can use the seven human needs to develop processes and routines that focus on the whole person.

This, in turn, creates an environment where employees are happier and more fulfilled, which will result in higher engagement, greater innovation, more profitability and employee productivity.


Jade Green is an internationally recognized speaker, People & Culture Consultant and entrepreneur on a mission to help people and planet conscious businesses unlock the potential in their teams to ensure that their business thrives for years to come. With accreditations from Mindvalley and The Flow Research Collective, Jade is an experienced facilitator who guides businesses through leadership coaching, strategic HR decisions, creating a high flow culture and developing teams founded in genuine care and connection. Head to www.jadegreen.com.au for more information.

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