13 Needs of Employees and How To Meet Them

Updated June 24, 2022

People look to their employers to not only provide them with a reasonable salary but also meet other personal and professional needs. By fulfilling those needs, employers can keep their staff motivated and productive and retain top talent. Supervisors who understand their employees' needs can take the right steps to meet them. In this article, we describe 13 key employee needs and how to provide them in the workplace.

Why are the needs of employees important?

Understanding and providing for the needs of employees is important for company morale, productivity and success. The benefits of meeting employee needs and wants include:

  • Happy and motivated staff

  • Higher employee retention

  • A healthier workforce that misses fewer days of work

  • Increased productivity

  • Better customer service

  • Positive employee reviews and word of mouth about the company

When company leaders provide for their employees' physical, mental, emotional and financial needs, those employees can put more focus into their work. Employees that feel valued, empowered and respected might perform better, which can benefit their career growth, their coworkers' morale and the company's success.

Related: The Key To Employee Satisfaction and How To Achieve It

13 key employee needs

To improve productivity and motivation in your organization, consider these 13 employee needs and how to provide them:

1. Fair wages

Employees should feel like they receive fair compensation for the work they do. Assess your employees' salaries annually to make sure your rates are competitive and reasonable. If an employee has accepted more responsibilities recently, they might deserve a higher salary. Consider giving bonuses and rewards for exceptional performance. These types of monetary incentives make employees feel valued and can motivate them to do quality work.

2. Health and well-being

Employees want to know you care about their physical and mental wellness and see them as human beings rather than commodities. Healthy employees can focus on their job duties rather than their well-being and typically miss fewer days of work for health-related reasons.

In addition to providing your employees with competitive benefits packages that include health, dental and vision insurance, create workplace wellness programs that encourage good health. Wellness initiatives might include:

  • Fitness or weight loss challenges

  • Free health screenings

  • Diet and exercise seminars

  • On-site yoga or meditation sessions

  • Healthy snacks and meals

  • Standing desks

  • Mental health days

  • Mandatory work breaks

  • Free or discounted gym memberships

Related: How To Implement Employee Wellness Programs: Tips and Benefits

3. Job security

Employees need confirmation that if they do their jobs well, the company will continue to employ them. If they worry about losing their job, your employees might look for new jobs. Communicate openly with your employees about the company's status so they can trust you and have confidence in their job stability. Discourage gossip or speculation by having an open-door policy and welcoming questions about company or employee performance.

4. Career growth

The potential for career advancement can be motivating for many employees. They want to know the company supports and invests in their growth. If employees see few opportunities for professional growth with your organization, they might look for different employers. Encourage self-development through:

  • Classes or training to learn new skills and technologies

  • Free or discounted membership to industry associations

  • Conferences and seminars

  • Leadership courses

Meet with employees to talk about their career goals, and create plans to help them grow and achieve those goals.

5. Feedback

Employees need validation when they are doing good work and guidance when areas of their performance need improvement. Give your employees honest feedback so they can focus on meeting and exceeding expectations. Encourage your staff to share ideas and suggestions openly, without judgment. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your employees to discuss their work. By listening and communicating with your team about their ideas and performance, you can create a stronger and more productive workforce.

Related: Guide To Providing Feedback To Employees

6. Belonging

Employees want to feel like they belong to a supportive, cohesive team. A sense of belonging meets their social needs and also makes them feel valued by the company. Take a personal interest in all your employees. Give friendly greetings, and ask them questions about their families or hobbies. Encourage collaboration and harmony in the workplace through team-building exercises or department outings for lunch or coffee.

7. Work-life balance

To enjoy their jobs and avoid feeling stressed, employees need to be able to balance their career with their personal life. Encourage work-life balance by:

  • Offering flexible work hours

  • Allowing remote work or telecommuting

  • Having generous or unlimited paid time off

Watch your employees for signs of fatigue, and encourage them to take breaks or vacations. Make sure your team knows they can take time to care for their children or go to an appointment without penalty or judgment.

8. Recognition

Employees want to be recognized and acknowledged for their work. It makes them feel valued and appreciated and can motivate them to continue performing at a high level. A compliment about an employee's recent contribution to a project or a thank you for completing a task on time can benefit employee morale. You can also recognize employees more publicly through department or company emails, in meetings or with employee of the month awards.

Related: A Guide To Meaningful Employee Recognition

9. Purpose

Many employees want to know they are working for a purpose or providing a meaningful service, rather than simply helping a company increase its profits. Make sure your team understands the importance of their work and the company's mission. Emphasize what the organization's product or service does for the customer or community. Give them impactful projects or assignments so they feel connected to their work. Create programs designed to give back to the community, and include employees in those initiatives.

10. Leadership

Employees need strong and supportive leaders to help them understand expectations and meet goals. As a supervisor, you should be confident, communicate clearly and frequently and set an example for professional behavior and work ethic in the workplace. Employees want leadership they respect and can trust to guide the company in the right direction. Be an effective leader by:

  • Communicating with and listening to your employees

  • Taking responsibility for miscommunications or mistakes

  • Doing your best work

  • Becoming an authority or thought leader in the industry

  • Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook

  • Supporting your employees in their decisions and ideas

Part of good leadership is also sharing information about the company's challenges and performance so employees understand financial or budgeting decisions and avoid surprises. Being transparent about the organization makes employees feel valued and well-informed. It can also help them make decisions that benefit the company.

Related: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

11. Responsibility

Employees want to feel empowered and trusted at work. They want to be given responsibilities and the independence to do their work without constant advice or oversight. Give your employees the freedom to work through challenges, make decisions or complete tasks on their own. After the project's completion, then you can provide feedback on ways to improve. Trusting your employees with responsibilities can increase their motivation, creativity and innovation.

12. Goals

Employees need personal and professional goals to be motivated at work and feel like they have achieved something. Goals give employees purpose and help them meet deadlines and quotas. Make sure your team understands the company's long-term mission and vision. Then give them more immediate, measurable goals such as increasing sales, resolving customer service requests faster or completing a training course.

13. Respect

Every employee wants to be respected at work and treated as equals with their coworkers. Employees who feel respected are more likely to respect their supervisors, as well. Demonstrate your respect by asking your employees for their feedback or suggestions, then listening to what they say and acknowledging their ideas. Treat your team with courtesy and kindness. Avoid showing bias or favoritism among your employees.

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