It is standard these days for organizations to have a focus on “looking after” their employees. You know the well-used phrase “Employees are the company’s most valuable assets!” Having a workplace populated with happy workers is more and more recognized as a key business driver. It certainly is something companies like Google believe in and look at their perks they offer:
• Free breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The organic food is chef-prepared!
• Free health and dental
• Free haircuts
• Free dry cleaning
• Subsidized massages
• Gyms and swimming pools
• Hybrid car subsidies
• Nap pods
• Video games, football, ping pong
• On-site physicians
I would like to suggest to you that it is not the perks themselves that actually do the trick at Google or anywhere else for that matter. Nope, it is rather the understanding of six human needs and how well meeting those needs is embedded in the culture of the Company.
The six human needs are Certainty, Uncertainty (variety), Significance, Connection/love, Growth and Contribution. Unlike the pyramid of Maslow, these needs are not in a hierarchy. They are all independent from each other while still connected with each other.
Out of the 6 human needs the first 4 are the needs of the Personality.
We all have a need for certainty. This relates back to Maslow’s basic needs of food and shelter and safety but goes beyond this to the emotion that certainty provides. This need will get us to watch the same movie over and over again, eat out at the same restaurants, buy the same clothes make, etc. With this need we want to avoid pain and we are seeking (guaranteed) pleasure. Overeating is an unhealthy way to meet this need by the way.
This relates to the need we have for diversity, change, stepping into the unknown, or adventure. It is about getting out of routines that could suck any life out of us over time so for instance eating out at the new restaurant in town, travelling, watching a new movie or trying a new workout could remove the routine. We are looking for thrills!
This relates to Maslow’s ‘Esteem’. It’s about our need to feel important, unique, needed, independent, special, or of value. We are generally looking for recognition from others and want to feel we are a good enough person. Look no further next time you observe someone putting someone else down, gossiping or anyone telling sad stories about themselves. They are meeting their need of significance in an unhealthy way!
This relates back to Maslow’s ‘love and belonging’. Our ability to belong or connect with others refers to us looking for a strong feeling
of closeness or union with someone or something – an ideal, values, habits, our identity. It is possible not have love with this; we can just have the connection. Staying in toxic relationships is an unhealthy way to meet this need.
The next two human needs are called the needs of the Spirit.
We all want to expand our capabilities not only intellectually but also emotionally, physically and spiritually. The lack of growth or progress can rob us of fulfilment. It relates back to Maslow’s need for us to reach our full potential. Have you ever been on courses and never applied the material? Well, that’s the need for growth met in an unhealthy way!
We all have a need to experience a sense of contributing and focusing on helping others. This is our way of making a difference, of contributing to something outside ourselves. To experience this need means our intention is unconditional. We help others take care of their needs on their terms. It is about selflessness.
So why is it important to understand the 6 human needs? Google’s perks probably come at a cost for Google but so does employee dissatisfaction, poor performance and high turnover.
The six needs influence our behaviours and impact our decision making, they simply motivate every choice we make and run our personal and professional lives! They keep us alive and we will find ways to meet them in positive, negative, or neutral ways.
Ignore them at your own peril! Imagine what your life or the life of the people around you would be if you did master meeting these needs healthily. The short answer is fulfillment and happiness!
The psychology of the six human needs is simple and straightforward:
1) They are the most basic needs we have,
2) They will be met no matter what,
3) They can be met in positive, negative or neutral ways,
4) We all have different ways to meet our needs,
5) We usually have 2 primary needs that drive us.
To lead your life knowing what your needs are and how you typically meet them could help you to fulfill them. To lead an exciting life means you know what the needs of the people are around you and are you meeting their needs and therefore also fulfilling your needs of growth and contribution.
The latter statement is the secret to a happy life, a happy workforce, family, happy everything!