The best leaders are usually part psychologist, taking the time to figure out what makes their employees tick, possibly even going so far as to empathize with their position. In doing so, they find the ability to make sure that they are providing the most vital needs that their employees have. Even the slightest failure in providing such necessities can be devastating.
Recently a colleague shared that his paycheck was going to be delayed by four weeks because someone in his office missed the payroll the deadline.
Besides the obvious legal issue this creates, there is a much deeper problem here. How can this employee now return to work and actually focus? Expecting top-notch performance from this individual is out of the question. Their mind, instead, is going to be running circles with thoughts like:
· How am I going to make my car payment?
· My rent is going to be late!
· What will I do for groceries this week?
This is where the work of Abraham Maslow, a psychologist who published a paper in 1943 entitled “The Theory of Human Motivation,” comes into play. In his paper, Maslow introduced his now famous hierarchy of needs. The most basic of these needs he classified as psychological. These needs include food, shelter, water, etc.––exactly the type of needs that were being put in danger in my colleague’s situation.
Psychological needs will always be the priority in most people’s lives. By far, the majority of workers go to their jobs every day to ensure that their basic needs and the basic needs of their loved ones will be satisfied. When it is questionable whether or not they are going to be able to meet their basic needs, employees easily lose focus and become distracted, which is not productive for any company or organization.
It’s sometimes the basics that are the easiest to overlook. A lot more is at stake for a company that fails to satisfy the basic needs of its employees. Something as simple as forgetting to turn in employee timesheets and delaying their paychecks can easily snowball into major issues as employees are unable to concentrate on daily tasks. In order to move into higher-level strategies for increasing employee engagement and productivity, company leaders must first ensure their employees’ basic needs are not being overlooked.