How to take basic psychological needs into account in a work community?

Blog 8.6.2021

Meeting basic psychological needs, a sense of belonging, voluntarism and competence and helping others are important aspects of well-being also in working life. How can we take basic psychological needs into account at the workplace?

Each and every one of us has the need to belong to a group and share the values of the group. This is about having a sense of belonging. I believe that people who have very independent tasks and can manage their own work also have a need for feeling like they are an important part of their work community. This may require supervisors to intentionally “involve” certain people in various teams and projects, for example.

Competence means that everyone of us wants to feel like they are good at something. It is important for supervisors to provide feedback about a job well done immediately. This supports the employee’s feeling of competence and boosts intrinsic motivation and well-being. Voluntarism and the possibility of affecting your own work play a key role in maintaining the ability to cope. They are particularly important in preventing burnout.

We all have had the need to be seen since we were born. As adults, we want to be seen as spouses and friends. Being seen at the workplace is also important, and everyone of us can help in this as colleagues and supervisors. It is important to remember that, although we are all different, everyone of us wants to be seen.

As employees, we can take our colleagues into account by providing feedback to each other. Providing feedback helps the recipient of the feedback, which will also help you meet your own basic psychological need, helping others.

Every one of us should think about how we, as colleagues or supervisors, can help meet these basic psychological needs through daily routines. This can typically be achieved through small daily words or acts that are actually very meaningful at the moment. The same principles apply in a work community, at home and in free time, during hobby activities for example.

Establishing a psychologically safe working atmosphere is the most important duty of a supervisor. Meeting basic psychological needs is possible in a safe environment, supporting to intrinsic motivation, well-being and good performance.

The blog post was written by Mehiläinen’s occupational health and sports psychologist Tuomas Grönman.