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Julie Palmer

A variety of old and new research suggests there a few basic psychological needs required to be engaged in our work. In the early 90's psychologists formed a motivational model of engagement that connects relationships and social contexts to our phycological needs. Psychologists say that when people are engaged they show behavioral engagement such as staying on task and persistence, emotional engagement meaning they are interested and enjoy what they are doing, and cognitive engagement meaning they enjoy being challenged and voice their preferences and interests. In order to reap these results, one must have three basic needs satisfied; autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

Engaged employees are happy employees

Autonomy allows employees to work in their own way and nurtures their intrinsic motivation. Structure provides clear communication and expectations, encourages, guides, and allows for feedback in order to satisfy the need for competence. Involvement shows you care about the employee, you get to know them on a day to day basis, and genuinely enjoy time spent with that person. This satisfies the employees need for relatedness. When these psychological needs are met people are more likely to find enjoyment in what they do. 

Today, Gallup has a survey that measures, tracks, and reports the well-being of your employees by asking questions in regards to five elements; purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Gallup says that when employees have more of these elements aligned, "it becomes easier for them to accomplish things in their own best interest, such as maintaining good physical health". 

With all of this being said, it is clear that an employee engagement strategy must focus on a handful of basic needs. But who is responsible for this focus? According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of the variation in employee engagement. Managers are perfectly positioned to act as a channel between the employee and their well-being. For instance, a manager has the ability to get the employee involved in company initiatives, encourage and guide, as well provide structure and clear communication. All meeting basic psychological needs. Gallup states that employees who are engaged are 28% more likely to participate in employee wellness programs and other well-being programs that help to meet their basic needs. 

Are you managers in tune with your employees basic needs?