Are Your Employees Feeling the Love?

By Jessica Wishart

company culture
As we celebrate Valentine's Day this year, are your team members feeling the love? How's your company culture holding up in today's world where change is constant? 
company culture
Stanford quotes the late, former Zappos CEO Tony Hseih saying, "Our whole belief is that if you get the company culture right, most of the other stuff — like delivering great service or building a long-term, enduring brand — will just happen naturally on its own." 
It's not just Zappos, other brands subscribe to the belief that if you hire the right people, treat them well, and trust them to take good care of your customers, your brand will build itself. For example, HubSpot, 2020's Great Place to Work honoree, treats culture as a product. According to their chief people officer, they pay just as much attention to the product they build for employees (their culture) as the ones they build for customers.
If creating the right culture where employees are feeling the love and generating high quality work for your company is important to you, how do you know if you're succeeding?
Following Maslow's hierarchy of needs, here are some considerations to maximize your employee's experience:
Are their basic needs met?
As a baseline, are you taking care of your employee's basic physical needs? Do they earn a fair wage, are they able to support their families, do they have adequate benefits and childcare provisions, and is their work space conducive to productivity? Do they have time to rest and recover?
  • IDEAS: Survey employees to see what resources they need. Check your wages and benefits against industry standards and cost of living. 
Are they safe and healthy?
This concern has come into sharp focus in the last year. If your employees are working in person, have you taken all reasonable precautions to ensure their health and safety? If they are working from home, are you checking in regularly on their physical and mental health? Do you have adequate sick leave, family leave, and other health promotion policies in place?
  • IDEAS: Measure an Employee Health Index to see how your team is feeling. Have a weekly stand up check in where each person shares how they are doing with the team. Use signage and model positive behaviors like wearing a mask, hand-washing, and social distancing.
Are they connected and happy?
Having friendships and positive relationships with peers at work is critical to employee engagement and productivity. This is harder when many workplaces have gone remote and the informal collisions in the break room or hallways are difficult to replicate.
  • IDEAS: Use a survey to measure employee satisfaction or engagement. Plan social gatherings, even if they are over Zoom, to help team members connect more informally. Ensure your team members are working collaboratively, not in isolation.
Are they motivated and feeling accomplished?
Your managers are key for meeting their team members' need for esteem. Team members enjoy being recognized for accomplishments in different ways. They all need to know what work to focus on and what success looks like, and when they achieve success, managers should strive to recognize them in ways that are most rewarding to the individual.
  • IDEAS: Talk with each person on your team to learn their preferences. Recognize team members in meetings, celebrate accomplishments with a shout out on social media—or send a handwritten note or a small gift.
Are they achieving their maximum potential?
Once your team members' basic and psychological needs are met, the next level is self-actualization. Imagine how creative and productive your team would be if you were able to build a high-performance culture so that each person is contributing their highest potential work. This is the ideal situation where you and your team members are really feeling the love.
  • IDEAS: Have a brainstorming session where you ask what it would look like if each person on the team was doing their very best work. Or you can ask the magic question: On a scale of 1-10, how close are you to achieving your full potential at work? What would be different if your score were a couple of points higher? Set some specific goals, and work together to make things better.
Focusing your energy on employee happiness and company culture can pay dividends, but like with anything, you have to do it with intention. Working through this hierarchy for individual team members can be powerful, but to build a culture of happiness, you need some foundational strategic decisions—like your company's Core Values and Core Purpose. Those will help you in hiring the right people and making the right strategic decisions to grow your business.
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Jessica Wishart


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images