In today’s business environment the best measure of performance is no longer how much time people invest. It’s how much energy they are able to bring to the hours they work.  

It’s enabling them to convert this energy into the value they produce.

People’s performance is inextricably connected to how they feel. Yet in most corporate cultures there is an unspoken expectation that employees will set aside their own needs in order to get their work done.

In its 2012 Global Workforce Study, Towers Watson found that companies with the lowest level of engagement had an average operating margin of 10%. Those with traditionally high engagement scores had a margin of 14%. The study identified that “sustainably engaged” employees, those who have the willingness AND the physical, emotional and social energy to invest extra effort, have operating margins almost double those of “traditionally engaged” employees.

To get more from people we need to invest more in their developmental needs.

We need to think differently about how we lead and manage our most important asset. Therefore, the more we take care of our people’s needs, the healthier, happier, more engaged, productive and loyal they will be.

We have 4 core needs that must be first met for full engagement and high performance.

1. Physical needs

From the physical perspective, there is a call for downtime, regular rest and renewal throughout the working day, as well as time out at weekends and holidays. The work of Nathaniel Kleitman demonstrates that the human body moves in ninety minute ultradian cycles, during which we move from higher to lower alertness.

Taking regular breaks throughout the day enables a greater degree of mental focus.

2. Emotional level

We all need to feel recognised and appreciated in our work and in what we bring to a team. Leaders need to demonstrate that they are able to deliver critical feedback as well as believing in their people’s potential to excel. Another crucial aspect of fostering a culture of care and consideration is to build positivity and optimism.

This has never been greater given the constancy of change.

3. Mental perspective

Create an environment in which employees can set clear boundaries and prioritise their own work. This allows them to differentiate between what’s important as opposed to urgent.  It’s also about allowing time for creative thinking and evaluation. The intensity of modern-day distractions are playing havoc with our concentration abilities and produces significant stress. 

Humans are not set up to multi-task. 

4. Spiritual level

Leaders who can define a clear and compelling vision that captures hearts and minds, along with a set of guiding values that inspire and inform cultural behaviours, will generate a far greater following. Workers have become comfortable with satisfying their more basic needs of safety, security, relationships, and self-esteem.

They want a greater sense of meaning and significance from their work than their predecessors.

Following good practice like these ensures the sustainability of your employees. This, in turn, ensures a competitive advantage in our fast-paced, challenging, ever-changing knowledge economy.

We enjoy sharing our ideas with you and love hearing about yours too. Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn.

Kath Roberts is a reformed workaholic who together with Kate Griffiths runs a successful Change Consultancy, The Art Of Leadership, transforming leaders from the inside out.​
Download the first chapter of their new book Colourful Boardrooms,  free here