Has someone ever told you, "Your employees are not engaged," or "I don't feel empowered"? Would you know what to do about it?
There has been a lot of talk for many years about something called “employee empowerment” and, more recently, “employee engagement.” I’d like to tell you about a model that I have found to be very helpful in both understanding the concepts and in generating actions to help them come about.
Over the next few blogs I will build this model from the ground up. It is similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. You might recall that Maslow proposed how the needs of people started with the basic physiological needs like food and water. Once these were satisfied, people would seek safety and security. Once they felt safe, they would seek friends and intimate relationships, and when those were present they would seek esteem and prestige. When all of these things were present a person could seek to achieve their true potential.
The key is that the things lower in the hierarchy needed to be fulfilled to some degree before a person could focus much on getting to the next level.
Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, after Maslow, 1943
Similarly, my Employee Fulfillment Model builds on a foundation of the basics and moves to higher levels as the lower levels are fulfilled.
The base of the hierarchy is “Basic Job Needs.” These include safety, fair compensation, a non-hostile work environment, a lack of harassment – all the things that many of us would assume are the basics of even calling it a job. Of course, far too many people in the world don’t even have this level of protection, and even here in the US you will hear about situations where a company does not even provide these basics.
Figure 2 - The first level of the Employee Fulfillment Hierarchy
If a job is missing these elements, it would be fruitless to talk about empowerment or engagement or really much of anything other than how to meet these bare minimums of employment. It is also important to note that these basic job needs are the obligations of the employer to meet.
Once those are met, we can proceed up to the next level: empowerment.
Which I will discuss in the next blog! See you then!