What Employees Want: Six Essentials

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on November 8, 2006

An important aspect of creating and maintaining a healthy work organization—one whose culture, climate, and organizational practices create an environment which promotes employees’ mental and physical health as well as their productivity and effectiveness—is understanding what employees want. What’s their motivation, and how can your business retain the best individuals?

Years of social science and business research have identified six basic human requirements that must be present for people to be productive. These criteria present a foundation for designing an effective organization and a healthy workplace.

1. Elbow room for decision making. People need to feel they’re in control of their own work, and that they have room to make decisions that they can call their own.

2. Opportunity to learn on the job and to go on learning. Learning is a basic human need, and people are always striving to improve. Learning occurs when people are able to set goals, meet challenges, and get feedback on their strengths and areas of growth.

3. Variety. People need to be able to vary their work to avoid the extremes of boredom and fatigue. They need to set up a satisfying rhythm of work that provides enough variety and reasonable challenge.

4. Mutual support and respect. People need to be able to get help and respect from their co-workers. In an environment where "one person’s gain is another’s loss," everyone loses.

5. Meaningfulness. People need to be able to relate to what they do and what they produce. Meaningfulness includes both the worth and quality of a product, and knowing how they contribute to the whole. There must be a true connection between the individual’s work and their values.

6. A desirable future. People need a job that leads to a desirable future for them. This isn’t necessarily a promotion but a career path that will continue to allow personal and professional growth and learning.

Mallary Tytel
President and Founder
Healthy Workplaces
Sioux Falls, S.D.

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