Winning the war for talent: how to meet the actualization needs of employees

The workplace is evolving. Employees aren’t focusing just on the money anymore. They want to work in a place that contributes to their happiness. In fact, 90% of people are willing to make less to do more meaningful work. For people to feel that their work is meaningful, employers have to recognize and meet employee needs. 

By understanding and addressing employee needs, organizations can establish themselves as good places to work, satisfying existing workers while attracting and retaining recruits. This is easier to do when you break these needs down into actionable categories.

This article is the third in a series of three that focuses on the war for talent and how you can apply the Mapiq pyramid of well-being to create a successful workplace. The first post in the series gave insight into concrete needs, the second post focused on belonging needs, and in this post, we’ll cover actualization needs.

Woman working on her laptop sitting on a chair.

The Mapiq pyramid of well-being 

Before we jump into the last article in this series, here’s a quick recap of our pyramid of well-being and why organizations are applying this concept.

Companies have a strong motivation to attract and retain top performers while achieving and maintaining an ideal work environment for current employees. With this in mind, we created the Mapiq pyramid of workplace well-being. This framework transforms personal well-being concepts into organizational principles.

The relationship between employee and employer is symbiotic if you have the right plans in place to support it. Employers see the benefits of productive employees when they’re happy with their work environment. People appreciate (and tend to stick around) when there’s harmony between their work environment and their needs.

To address this issue, we identified the three employee needs that are key to any thriving workplace:

  • Concrete needs
  • Belonging needs
  • Actualization needs

You can think of these needs as the pillars of an attractive office and company culture. When you satisfy these core needs, you can more easily attract talented recruits and retain high-performing members of your workforce. Now, let’s take a closer look at the third element of concern in the ideal workplace: actualization.

What are actualization needs? 

Self-actualization is a term that comes from psychology. This is the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. Actualization needs in the workplace center around empowering your people to achieve their full potential.

You can only meet these needs once you address all concrete and belonging needs, and there are two central actualization needs. Those are identity and autonomy. They represent the ideal work experience, which all organizations should strive for. 

When actualization needs are met, employees feel more confident, trusted, and productive. Additionally, communication runs smoother, and workplace communities are more united. This is a win-win: it’s better for your business and for your people. 

Actualization needs can be met by establishing and communicating a corporate identity, giving employees and teams the autonomy they need, and using technology to empower employees to have the best workday possible. Let’s look at how you can implement this in your organization and meet these needs.

Communicate your identity 

A solid corporate identity is key to meeting actualization needs because it lets current employees and recruits feel confident aligning themselves with a company. Communication is necessary to establish and create a positive organizational identity. This way, workers always know what they should be keeping in mind and what to expect. Here are three things to prioritize when communicating your company’s identity.


Messaging

Your message is at the core of your identity. What does your company stand for? What are your values? You may already have the answers to these questions, but spend some time thinking through them if you don't.

Once you feel confident about your messaging, you can communicate your identity more explicitly. Be open to sharing it on your website, as well as through marketing and PR materials to ensure it becomes an established aspect of your brand. This is key because 9 out of 10 candidates say they would apply for a job when the employer’s brand is actively maintained.


Actions

Communicating your values is just the first step. Next, you have to show your commitment to making that messaging a reality. This may include your approach to diversity, what events you hold, or the benefits you offer your employees.

If we look at inclusivity as an example, 80% of people say inclusion efforts are an important factor when choosing a company to work for. Companies that don’t just talk about their efforts but take meaningful steps to make their values known will stand out to potential applicants.  


Transparency

In the war for talent, it is vital to be clear about your identity as it sets a standard of transparency and ensures that you are attracting the right kinds of candidates. People shouldn’t need to dig for proof to figure out whether or not you do what you say you can do. Make this visible.

Transparency about your company's mission and goals is also important for retention. Just under one-half of employees indicated that management’s communication of organizational goals and strategies was very important to their job satisfaction. If you want to keep talent, it’s in your best interest to be clear and communicative.

All these components work together to create a sense of trust. Being open with recruits and employees contributes to a work environment where people feel comfortable and engaged, allowing them to show up as their best selves and do their best work each day. 

Give your people autonomy 

To meet actualization needs, your people need to know that you trust them to do their work and do it well. That's where autonomy comes in. Giving employees autonomy in turn gives your leaders more time and flexibility, and helps each person in the workforce feel more fulfilled. 

Studies show work environments that are more autonomous have higher job satisfaction and better productivity. People want to work in places where they can make their own decisions. To implement this correctly, though, you have to understand the different levels of autonomy you can offer.

The different levels are:

  • Structural autonomy
  • Team autonomy
  • Employee autonomy

Each of these plays a key role in creating a positive and truly autonomous workplace. Here’s a breakdown of the three types:


Structural autonomy 

Structural autonomy is all about democratizing the concept. You aren’t reserving autonomy for the elite few in higher positions. Even employees in entry-level positions have some sense of freedom, and you don’t judge them solely based on when they clock in and out. This can be a sharp adjustment if your management is used to having a lot of oversight.

A Gartner survey of 239 large corporations found that more than 50% were using some kind of “nontraditional” monitoring to track employees. Instead, try to evaluate employees on the results that they achieve. When or how they work doesn’t matter as much as their ability to get the job done. It’s also no longer necessary to track with standard timesheets to ensure work is complete.


Team autonomy 

Creating a culture of team autonomy means that teams are self-managed. This allows teams to cooperate and work together as a community. They don’t need to go to one specific person to have minor, day-to-day decisions approved. Instead, every team member contributes to initiatives and has an important role in a company’s overall business strategy. Studies show that increased perceived autonomy can significantly improve group productivity and positively impact overall mood.


Employee autonomy 

Finally, you have to look at workplace autonomy on an individual level. This means you ensure workers can create workdays suited to their needs without deferring to other people or systems. Employee autonomy can increase motivation and happiness, as well as decrease employee turnover. 

By instilling these types of autonomy in your organization, you can meet the actualization needs of your employees and attract recruits by providing them with the freedom they need to work well. 79% of autonomous employees are more engaged, and thus, are more accountable.

Utilize empowering technology 

Technology is also crucial in meeting actualization needs. You can take advantage of a range of tools that aid communication and empower employees to control their environment. There are several different ways to leverage technology and make your workplace better. 


Improves your environment

Technology is everywhere we turn, and modernizing the workplace has benefits. It provides your people with greater control over the way a job is done and control over the environment in which it is done. Your people can also free up time to do their jobs better, and faster, and even eliminate external dependencies.

However, for this to be effective, technology needs to be easy for end-users to integrate. Intuitive technology helps employees instead of confusing them. If you don’t consider this, you may find that your people will resist new technology, which can hinder your progress in the long term.

Removes communication barriers

Now that the workforce is more distributed than ever, it can be challenging to communicate. Employees often aren’t in the office at the same time and may miss opportunities for connection. You can solve this problem with technology.

The right tools make it easier to keep everyone in the loop and easily share important information.

While this may seem like something we only began to think about at the start of the pandemic, that isn’t the case. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, nearly a third of American employees said they could do their job from home, and a quarter of them were working from home at least part of the time. We have to pay attention to this as the need accelerates to build productive teams.


Fosters community

Technology creates community in your organization which benefits both identity and autonomy. It allows people to feel confident that they can reach out if they need help, but it also connects them to the resources and information they need to make their own decisions.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, that's critical because small companies with 100 employees lose approximately $420,000 annually due to inefficient communication within the company. When your organization has technology that empowers employees and fosters smooth communication, it signals to current and potential employees that you value and listen to all their needs.

It may be tempting to dismiss what technology brings to the table and operate in the way you always have. However, to attract the talent your organization wants and keep current employees happy, it’s important to evaluate how new tools can support them.

Using the Mapiq pyramid of well-being to meet actualization needs


The Mapiq pyramid does more than reveal the workings behind how organizations are creating successful environments for their people. It also shows you how you can recreate it. When you focus on actualization needs, you’ll see the benefits of a more harmonious workplace and create the ideal experience for your employees.

By communicating your identity, providing autonomy, and leveraging technology, you can have a workplace that employees are attracted to and will want to keep being a part of for years to come. If you want to win the war on talent, taking steps to meet these needs must be at the core of your strategy.

Keep coming back to our blog for more information on applying the Mapiq pyramid, making strides toward workplace well-being, and winning the war for talent.

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