The five human needs in every workplace

By Brad Palmer

2 min read

The five human needs in every workplace

At the root of every organization are its people. Their needs are universally human, never mind the organization’s leadership style or industry. That’s interesting.

When you look at the list of Jostle customers that are enjoying over 85% employee participation rates, you see all manner of industries (high tech, financial institutions, housing authorities, churches, restaurant chains, cities, quality auditors, etc.) and leadership styles (top-down, consultative, evangelical, self-managed cooperatives, etc.).

One commonality across this wide range of companies, is the underlying human needs of their employees. Never mind the leadership style or company culture, the human needs of people at work are fundamentally the same.

So, what are those universal human needs in the workplace?

Employees are humans. Humans generally want to contribute their best work, and they need to believe their work matters in order to do so. They need to be an accepted part of a tribe. They need to be empowered and enabled to get work done. They need their contributions appreciated, and their ideas and opinions respected.

These requirements can be summarized as follows:

  1. I matter I need to feel that my organization has a worthwhile purpose. And I need to understand how my tasks contribute and matter to this.
  2. I belong I need to feel part of the tribe. I need to see workplace values that ring true and that are widely shared as the foundation of a vibrant workplace culture.
  3. I’m enabled I need easy access to the tools, information, and processes to do my work. I need clarity on how to find help, get work done, and make decisions.
  4. I contribute I need to have my accomplishments recognized. I need to know that my teammates appreciate and value my contributions.
  5. I’m respected I need to feel respected. My organization must provide an environment of trust where information can be confidently and appropriately shared.

Put simply, when these five human needs are met in the workplace, people do their best work, become engaged, and deliver those phenomenal returns that the most successful companies achieve.

If all five of these needs are met on a personal level, you feel a contributing part of a connected organization that’s accomplishing things together. You’re a very engaged employee. What’s interesting here is that these human needs can be met in pretty much any organization with pretty much any competent leadership style. We’ve seen this in practice with our customers, many times over.

Often companies think they need to change and become more “social” to fully engage employees. While the underlying needs of humans are indeed social, there is no prerequisite that an organization become social to provide them. It’s clarity and recognition that connect an organization (its structure, goals, and values) to the humans that make it up.

Leaders that deliver this clarity and recognition see employee engagement and productivity soar. It’s all about communication: reinforcing values, articulating plans, and celebrating successes. That’s the common denominator across the vibrant mix of highly successful Jostle customers – they’re bustling communities that are communicating every day.


A focus on employee success boosts productivity and joy

Find out how

Brad Palmer

  • Share this:

Add your comments