Have you been involved in the employee engagement conversation?

Most large companies perform employee engagement surveys, or spend time and money identifying the level of employee satisfaction. And it’s because they know that disengaged employees can have a significant impact on a business’s bottom line.

But what happens when it comes time to put new strategies into place in order to increase your team’s engagement? What actually does motivate and engage your staff?

What is it that your team is actually looking for?

The four needs of all employees

Not surprisingly, the needs of employees are based on how people tick. They’re based on our human needs.

According to the theory of universal human needs, there are four needs of the personality that drive every single one of us, and tapping into those needs is a powerful way to keep your team motivated.

Getting those needs met underlies that sense of satisfaction, and meeting them in a quality way drives motivation at high levels.

The four needs are: certainty, variety, significance and connection.

The need for certainty

Certainty is something that we all crave, no matter who we are. We want to feel safe, in control, and certain of ourselves and our environment.

The challenge is that the environment is always changing, so seeking certainty there can be tenuous and can lead to a feeling of instability.

Instead, build your team up to experience certainty in themselves by investing in their development, by helping them understand their strengths and unique contribution to the team, and by creating an environment where honest mistakes are not punished.

The need for variety

Almost as a flip side to the need for certainty is the need for variety. Whilst we want the stability that comes with certainty, we also want a bit of unpredictability and surprise, otherwise we get bored.

Teams that lack variety either become apathetic, or else they create variety through drama, thus potentially becoming a leader’s worst nightmare.

Different people have different levels of need for variety, but we all have the need in some form or another. Ensure that there is some variance in what your team does, and especially for your team members who are motivated by change and adventure.

The need for significance

We all need to feel noticed, that we matter. Some of us like this to happen in a very public way, and some of us prefer to be acknowledged in private.

There is a point at which significance becomes overly ego-based, whether it’s an individual requiring a huge amount of significance, or of a team that places its own successes above those of other teams in the organisation.

Help your team get their needs for significance met by lining up their success with the success of the organisation, and by ensuring individual reward happens, but doesn’t overshadow group success.

The need for connection

You’ve heard that no man is an island, and the same is true in teams. Even the biggest loner has a need to feel connected. It might not be a need to be connected to the other people in the team, but it might be a need to be connected to the mission of the organisation, or the project they’re working on.

When a person feels disconnected from the team or the organisation, they can feel like they’re wandering aimlessly with nothing tethering them to their day-to-day reality. A lack of connection is likely to lead to a lack of commitment, and even resentment.

Find a way for every member to feel connected to the team, whether it’s by fostering camaraderie within the team, or bringing a strong sense of the team’s mission or vision to the fore.

The level of need

While every human has each of these needs, you’ve probably already realised that each of the members of your team will prioritise one or two of these needs over others.

As a leader, this is valuable information for you, because you can increase each individual’s engagement and effectiveness by ensuring your team members’ needs are met in a resourceful way that is healthy and productive for themselves, for the team, and the organisation.