The Core 4: How to Improve Employee Satisfaction

By Robert Half June 18, 2014 at 7:00am

It turns out “How are you feeling today?” is more than just idle water-cooler chat. Employers who make the effort to meet four core needs of their staff members will reap a rich harvest of employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity, according to a recent opinion piece titled “Why You Hate Work" in The New York Times.

So what are these elusive “Core 4” needs that make workers feel and perform better? It turns out they’re all fairly intuitive. Despite this, management often does little to invest in meeting them.

Here are the Core 4 needs identified by the article’s authors, Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath — and how to improve employee satisfaction in your organization:

1. Renewal. We all need time to renew and recharge throughout the workday. Make sure employees take regular breaks. Schwartz and Porath noted that workers who step away from their desks every 90 minutes see a spike in their level of focus (+30 percent), ability to think creatively (+50 percent), and health and well-being (+46 percent). One big bonus: Encouraging workers to take breaks doubles the likelihood they’ll stay with you.

2. Value. Employees who feel a sense of care and appreciation from their supervisors are significantly more engaged and likely to stay. Encourage managers within your organization to be “human-centered,” that is, to commit themselves to putting the needs and well-being of their employees first. What does this really mean? Simply caring and showing empathy, such as recognizing their accomplishments and thanking them for their efforts.

3. Focus. Everyone multitasks, and we all know how hard it is not to. But we also need the time and space to apply laser-like focus to individual accounting tasks. Set aside a few “Do Not Disturb” slots during your workday and help employees prioritize their workload so they can do the same. When they are able to focus on one thing at a time, they feel 50 percent more engaged.

4. Purpose. Giving employees a sense of significance and meaning in their work has the highest impact of any variable in the authors’ study. In fact, professionals are three times as likely to remain with an organization that fulfills these needs. The lesson for managers: It’s time to break down the silo mind-set. The more you make employees feel part of the bigger picture, the better for your bottom line.

In the words of one chief executive, “We’re trusting (our employees) to do their jobs rather than telling them what to do, and then we’re appreciating them for their efforts. We’re also on the right path financially.”

What is your organization doing to meet the Core 4 and improve employee satisfaction? Share your thoughts below.

Related post: How to Inspire Your Employees

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