What We're Into: Recognizing Employee Needs

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Connect the Grey's approach is built on the idea that organizations are most sustainable when they tend to all of their needs: not only financial profits, but also their ability to learn and innovate, their responsibility to the environment and to their communities, and their employees' physical and emotional wellness.

That's why we've appreciated recent articles focusing on employee engagement, and on the importance of recognizing employees' feelings and interpersonal dynamics.

"The Fear of Feelings at Work" was an Atlantic article about psychologist Susan David and her book Emotional Agility. David says, "There’s this idea that if you put information into people, that you’ll get behaviors out of the other end. We’re dealing with humans here."

Honoring that humanity instead of trying to repress it, David explains, allows for healthier workplaces and better problem-solving. Being forced to put a smile on during stressful situations requires a lot of mental effort. Employees who are allowed to express discontent and frustration can focus their energy on finding new solutions, instead of covering up their feelings. Mandated positivity undermines the organization's ability to learn and explore new options; the ability to express emotions allows employees to surface problems quicker.

In the Harvard Business Review's "Motivating Employees Is Not About Carrots or Sticks," consultant and coach Lisa Lai argues against the traditional punishment/reward method of motivation. She writes, "The better employees feel about their work, the more motivated they remain over time."

That approach recognizes employees' full humanity and how they view their professional roles. It includes helping people understand the context and relevance of the work they're doing, proactively anticipating roadblocks to prevent delays in progress, and showing meaningful appreciation for employees' contributions.

Another Harvard Business Review article, "5 Questions to Ask About Corporate Culture to Get Beyond the Usual Meaningless Blather," pushes for bold thinking on organizational culture. Author Bill Taylor, who co-founded Fast Company, argues that companies must have a distinctive vision and a shared commitment to clearly understood values. He also says that companies must have a passion for ongoing learning and enthusiasm for change and renewal. 

"For the truly great leaders I’ve studied, the people factor is just as vital as the technology or money one," Taylor writes. To him, building a successful company culture isn't just about motivating employees to work harder; it requires looking at fundamental questions of the company's ultimate purpose and goals.

Have you encountered a book, article, or video that changed the way you thought about employee engagement and workplace culture? Share your thoughts in the comments!