Meeting the Unmet Needs of Our Employees and Customers
By Regina Krasner
“Just because someone carries it all so well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy.”
Being a leader in this time of public health, economic and political instability presents an interesting challenge for determining ways to help secure the well being to ensure productivity of your staff and engagement of your customers. Each person has a unique set of needs and meeting those unmet needs can have huge internal productivity impacts on your organization. Your organization’s impact on these unmet needs seem impossible, but there are techniques that leaders can employ to help employees and customers better navigate these difficult times so they can be productive members of your organizational team.
Unmet needs are studied in all areas of life and at all ages. Humans have universal needs that must be met in order for them to function appropriately inside and outside the workplace. If these needs are not met, the physical and mental tolls can be significant both inside and outside work and can become more acute the longer they go on. The longer a person’s basic needs are not met, the more damage it can have to the individual. There are two different kinds of unmet needs that affect an organization’s health; external and internal.
External Unmet Needs
So much of what affects the performance of your employees and customers have nothing to do with the workplace. Abraham Maslow explained it well when he presented the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The basics behind this theory is that there are some needs that must be met for individuals to move along the continuum. In these trying times, there is often very real possibilities that your employees or customer’s may not getting their basic needs met. For example, rising unemployment may affect employee’s ability to pay bills, sickness or death due to COVID may have affected employees or family members. These needs are outside the control of an organization’s leadership, but very real to the employees it is affecting.
What can we do to when our employees are experiencing these types of terrible events while still attempting to be productive at work? Empathy and kindness go along way in these times and being able to provide some level of support to these employees now will pay dividends later.
Internal Unmet Needs
While External Unmet Needs are difficult for leadership to have any impact on, there are clear ways for organizations to help employees meet their unmet needs at work. If an employee does not feel safe going back to work in a COVID environment, or if employees is placed in a jobs that are not right for their skill set, their productivity and happiness will deeply suffer. Putting the right policies and programs in place that promote meeting these unmet needs will pay huge dividends. Here are some examples of common workplace unmet needs:
There are so many tactics that can help your organization tackle meeting these needs for employees. Whether hiring practices, HR policy, workforce smoothing, supervisory training, or focusing on cultural engagement, the studies show that caring about the unmet needs of your employees in both words and action can reap significant benefit in employee productivity.
If you see gaps in your own organization, take the time work with supervisors and leadership to brainstorm how a change in policy, a training class or employee listening sessions might impact organizational and employee health. Remember, do not reach out to employees unless you are prepared to show progress.