What Keeps Employees Energized and Excited About Their Work?

Edmonton Counselling Resources

One of the key answers to this is just outside your window! Nature tells us that when we stop growing we die! Our bodies are constantly rejuvenating, and if our mind stagnates it will wither and die as well. If people do not feel like they are developing personally and professionally they often begin to look for new more challenging jobs. Alternatively they stay in their job, but are unhappy. We have all seen people who feel stuck in their positions, bored and unchallenged. Their affect is flat, enthusiasm not-existent, and productivity poor. The distaste for their work is palpable!

“Limited career growth or promotional opportunity” was the number 1 reason for leaving jobs according to a study reported in The 7 Hidden Reason Employees Leave by Leigh Branham. We can gain some insight about employees motivations and desire for growth from a respected psychologist Abraham Maslows who wrote “Toward a Psychology of Being”. Maslow outlines a hierarchy of needs and theorized that when people fulfill their lower level needs they then aspire towards the higher needs. According to Maslow, physiological, survival, safety, love and esteem needs must be met before people begin to meet their full potential. This theory of motivation suggests clear direction in how to retain employees and how to engage employees to meet and exceed their potential at work.

  1. Physiological Needs/motivators: These include water, food and sleep. In the work place this suggests staff have time for breaks, lunch and salaries that enable people to purchase the basic necessities of life. It suggest that overwork is counterintuitive to employee retention because it leaves people tired with limited time to look after themselves by exercising, eating well and getting adequate sleep. It may also involve a flexible work schedule that enables people to meet their physical needs and family responsibilities.
  2. Safety Needs/motivators: This entails a safe work environment, health benefits, job security, and pensions. Although job security is not always possible during difficult times it is important to do as much as possible to help staff feel secure. People want to feel they can trust a company to fulfill their promises, and that the job is what it was presented to be at the time of hiring. People want to feel they are treated fairly, and have adequate financial compensation that is paid on time.
  3. Social Needs/motivators: These include friendship, belonging, and feeling cared for. In the workplace this may involve building a sense of “we’re in this together”, and “we’re a team”. Encouraging staff relationships with a shared lunch break, celebrating birthdays, and organizing company sports teams all help to meet this need. Humor is a great way to feed a sense of community and create a happy, motivated work environment.
  4. Esteem Needs/motivators: Recognition, attention, social status, accomplishment, and self respect are all examples of esteem motivators. Branham in The 7 Hidden Reason Employees Leave, reports that the #2 reason people leave jobs is because they do not feel respected by their supervisor. When staff feel they are appreciated, complimented and trusted to do a good job they feel respected and are motivated to do a better job. Employees want to feel that their skills are being utilized, and that they are good at what they do. If bosses intimidate, condescend, slam doors, belittle people, give mostly negative feedback, yell, withhold important information, show favortism, gossip, and use fear as a motivator employees will not feel respected.
  5. Self-actualization: This is the highest need and involves a continuous quest to grow and achieve one’s full potential. People want to feel they can develop their skills on the job and through job training. They want to have the opportunity for advancement leading to higher earnings. Stimulating work motivates people to produce, create, and take their work to a higher level. Employers need to encourage staff to push themselves and take on challenges. This includes supporting people who ask tough questions and challenge the status quo. In fact, it is often when we challenge the status quo that new advancements are made. For example, what if the Wright Brothers never asked “why can’t people fly” or Thomas Edison never asked “why can’t we light our home with electricity”?

Examining each of these five needs reveals the strengths and weakness of your companies’ desirability as a work place to employees. It suggests that it is difficult to retain employees if they do not feel secure, respected, and connected to the people they work with. It highlights the importance of discerning what individual employees need to feel valued, what they are passionate about and how to challenge them to grow and develop. Does your company create a fertile ground for growth? How can you enrich it?

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