Meeting Employees’ Needs: Culture Management, Engagement, and Preventable Turnover

One of the primary objectives of performance reviews is to ensure that needs are being met—departmental needs, functional needs, organizational needs, and employees’ needs. And there’s the rub. Too often, employees’ needs are overlooked during performance reviews.

Managers focus on other aspects of performance when conducting reviews: whether goals were achieved or not, an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, skill gaps that must be filled, and the like. However, as a recent Harvard Business Review blog post illustrates, it’s a mistake to overlook whether employees’ needs are being met.

In “The Power of Meeting Your Employees’ Needs,” authors Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath reveal the bottom-line benefits of meeting employees’ basic needs, which fall into four categories: 1) renewal (physical); 2) value (emotional); 3) focus (mental); and 4) purpose (spiritual).

Schwartz and Porath write that when any one of these basic needs is being met employees “report a 30% higher capacity to focus, a nearly 50% higher level of engagement, and a 63% greater likelihood to stay at the company.”

(no surprise that #TalentManagement, #EmployeeEngagement, & #Retention are perennial trending topics in HR social media space)

And this positive impact is cumulative, rising with each additional need that gets satisfied. “When all four needs are met, the effect on engagement rises from 50% for one need to 125%.”

The authors conclude: “Rather than trying to forever get more out of their people, companies are far better served by systematically investing in meeting as many of their employees’ core needs as possible, so they’re freed and fueled to bring the best of themselves to work.”

But how do you know what your employees’ needs are? There’s really only one way to be sure. You have to ask them—and the performance review is the perfect time to do so. But this requires managers to engage in a true two-way dialogue with each of their direct reports, not just a one-way discourse on how they’re rating employees. It means being attentive and discussing employees’ needs with respect. It also means managers must be willing to do two key things: first, to give real thought and consideration to what employees are saying; and second, to follow up on these discussions, taking action in a timely manner to get employees’ needs met when appropriate.

Discussing employees’ needs—and what you can do to meet them—not only helps you reap the benefits cited by the authors of the HBR post but it also shows employees that you value them and care about helping them achieve their goals. If you want to create and sustain a high-performance work environment, this kind of open commitment to employees is crucial.