January 07, 2020

Direct from the source: What your employees need to thrive this year

Do your people have what they need to excel in the coming year? We looked at our session data and identified the top five unmet needs that employees are sharing with our coaches.

1. Freedom to take risks

The importance of psychological safety cannot be overstated. Innovation can only happen through taking risks, so when employees find the repercussions of failure scarier than the status quo, something isn’t working. Thoughtful risk-taking and vulnerability should be rewarded regardless of outcome.

(Read: Signs that your employees don’t feel psychologically safe.)

2. Opportunities for deeper engagement

We’ve said it before: Purpose matters. Employees do their best work when their ability to engage with it matches their expectations. Engaging with one’s work can include taking pride and ownership over autonomous projects, exploring different interests while filling gaps in the organization, and participating socially within the work environment. The relationship between work and identity varies, so it’s important to seek information on what work means to your employees, and give clear expectations, as early as the hiring process.

(Read: How much does purpose matter to your people?)

3. Role clarity

Any kind of change in an organization means people’s roles will have to shift to accommodate the organization’s shifting needs. Unclear expectations can create conflict, confusion around career paths can damage engagement, and a sense of being poorly-equipped for one’s role can seem an insurmountable frustration. These issues aren’t exclusive to hard skills—for example, our data shows that, for new managers, one of the most prevalent needs is to develop delegation skills.

4. Individualized learning

Two trends are putting an end to one-size-fits-all learning and development: the average career trajectory is becoming less linear and more exploratory, and a “learn-to-work” mindset has flipped to “work-to-learn.” A new generation of employees sees professional development as central to their job experience. For these employees, staying engaged is predicated on getting learning that fosters their individual success at your company and future employability. Put another way, “If I’m not learning anymore, it’s time to move on.”

5. A sounding board 

We all have someone in our lives who we go to to talk about our stressors at work—it’s often a professional peer, close friend, or partner, and it’s rarely someone qualified to do much more than commiserate. Coaching gives employees not just an outlet, but also a starting point for more productive conversations at work.

Final thought

Asking employees what they’re missing doesn’t always result in clear answers. Laying a strong foundation by focusing on these five core needs from our session data is a great start.

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