A Healthy Work Culture means Fullfilling Human Needs
A global survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, found that 90% of employees who rate their work culture as poor have thought about quitting their jobs. The survey was conducted in about 12 countries. While summarizing the results, SHRM states that "workplace culture will spell the difference between success and failure in a post-pandemic world."
A healthy workplace culture can mean the difference between staying on the job and quitting. It also impacts the levels of productivity and rates of absenteeism.
This brings us to the question:
What constitutes a healthy workplace culture?
There are various factors that determine the workplace culture. If you look at the recent trends in workplace culture, you may notice a pattern where employees prefer a culture that satisfies their needs for growth and development along with autonomy and flexibility at work.
The Workplace is the New Battlefield of Human Needs
It is easier to understand these trends with the help of Maslow's theory of needs. Abraham Maslow was a famous psychologist who is widely known for his theory of "hierarchy of needs." His theory discusses the levels of human needs that should be met in order for them to function properly. These needs are reflected in the workplace as follows:
Fair pay and good working conditions
In Maslow's pyramid of needs, at the baseline are physiological needs. These are the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. In the workplace, these needs could be translated as fair pay and good working conditions. To create a better workplace culture, these are the basic needs of employees that should be met.
When the physiological needs are satisfied, there are safety needs. This translates to the needs of security and stability. At the workplace these needs manifest as the needs of job security, safe working environment, health insurance and other benefits.
Social connections at workplace
When the needs for safety and security are met, there are social needs. These are the needs of attachment and belonging to a particular group. At the workplace, employees need to cultivate healthy bonds of friendship with their colleagues. The Q-12 survey conducted by Gallup included a statement "I have a best friend at work." Later they found that the answer to this question predicts success of high performing teams.
It is important to develop good social connections at the workplace. Man is a social animal, as famously declared by Aristotle and found to be true by numerous researches conducted globally. In the 21st century, an individual spends most of their time at work. Therefore, good social relationships at the workplace account for greater employee satisfaction and higher levels of productivity.
From a broader perspective, BELONGING also talks about the importance of diversity and inclusion at the workplace. Minorities are heavily impacted by this need.
Next up in the hierarchy of needs are the self-esteem needs. These are the needs of prestige and status. At the workplace this talks about the needs of recognition and respect. Employees these days want an opportunity to do what they do best and utilize their skills at the workplace. They are looking for mentoring and recognition.
The role of a peoples supervisor at a workplace is a crucial one. They interact with employees and set the bar for acceptable and great performance. Employees look up to them for guidance and coaching. Since personal growth and development is a priority for a sizable share of employees, they need their supervisors to act as a catalyst to achieve better results.
Recognizing the efforts of employees and giving them appropriate praise and rewards leads to higher levels of motivation in employees. When high performing candidates are appreciated and acknowledged at the workplace, they gain respect which boosts their self esteem.
Meaning and Purpose
The topmost and final stage of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the need for self actualization. It talks about the needs of creativity and advancement. Elaborating on the nature of these needs, Maslow says:
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy. What a man can be, he must be. This need we may call self-actualization.”
Employees tend to refuse to work at an organisation that only provides good remuneration. They are seeking a job which is meaningful to them. They want to spend their time working on something that will be beneficial to many people and serve the community at large.
The culture of a company needs to be tailored to accommodate these needs of employees. Along with this, a high importance must be given to employee well-being and various determinants of well-being at work like a positive workplace environment, employee engagement and job satisfaction. How much is your company doing to fulfill the human needs of their people?
Vrunda Chauk Behavioral Psychologist
Check this article from Zuleka Kaysan and Ivan Palomino for Insights Success Magazine on How to Use Business Transformation to create a better ‘People Culture’