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Employees core needs

In 2014 the Harvard Business Review researched more than 12,000 (mostly white-collar) employees to find out what style of management increased productivity.

The study found that employees respond best when four core needs are met.

Core need 1 – working for a purpose

Employees who were aligned with the company Core Purpose are 170% higher job satisfaction and they were 140% more engaged at work.

And, employees who perceive meaning and significance of their work were more than 300% more likely to stay with you.

Core need 2 – feeling valued

Feeling cared for by a manager has a more significant impact than any other behaviour by a leader. Employees who feel they have a supportive boss are 67% more positive and engaged.

Core need 3 – time for renewal

Perhaps unsurprisingly, if people work more continuously and longer hours feel less positive.

Employees who take a break every 90 minutes report a 30% higher level of focus compared to those who take no breaks, or who take just one break during a day.

Those employees who take frequent breaks report a nearly 50% greater capacity to think creatively and a 46% higher level of health and well-being.

Core need 4 – ability to focus

Only one is five people said they were able to focus on one task at a time without being distracted or interrupted at work.

Those who did have the space and freedom to focus without interruptions were 50% more positive and engaged.

Interestingly, the research found that employees want flexibility about where and when they work, and have far higher engagement levels when they have more choice.

Here are a few suggestions you can implement right now

  • Define and share your reason why
  • Ask your team to score you based on how much they think you care about them
  • Make sure meetings do not last more than 90 minutes
  • Encourage people to get up out of their seats and walk around every 90 minutes
  • Provide the opportunity for staff to take regular breaks
  • Set clear boundaries when people are not expected to take calls and answer emails
  • Create distraction free environment with spaces and culture so employees can work without interruption


Perhaps the first thing you can do is go first and set the example for your employees. Even if you don’t have employees use the strategies on yourself and with contractors and key suppliers.