You probably feel your energy throughout the work day fluctuating. And some days are more exhausting or more energizing than others. What if I told you that your energy is related to having your needs met at work? An interesting new study shows that need satisfaction can leave you feeling more energized at the end of the day! Today, we share these findings and give you some concrete tips on how to to boost your energy through need satisfaction.

Needs at Work

Before we dive into some tips, let us clarify what we mean by need satisfaction. First, there’s a theory in psychology called Self Determination Theory. It’s all about human motivation. The part of the theory we are going to focus on today are the three psychological needs it identifies. According to this theory, employees all have 3 basic needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Having these 3 needs met at work, leads to improved health and wellness.

We all have the need to feel like part of the team at work!

Let’s describe these needs a bit more:

  • Autonomy: We’ve talked about this concept before. Basically, employees need to have some control over their actions. An employee can have this need met by being allowed to decide the order that tasks are completed in during the day or being able to choose how to accomplish a goal instead of having everything prescribed.
  • Competence: Employees also need to feel like they are capable and doing a good job. They need to feel effective on the job. An employee can have this need met by meeting goals and deadlines, completing tasks and to-do lists, or being recognized for their work.
  • Relatedness: Finally, employees need to feel connected to others at work. They need to feel a sense of belonging. An employee can have this need met by being invited to a team lunch, being included in a new team project, or becoming friends with coworkers.

Need Satisfaction and Daily Energy

All employees have these 3 basic needs and having these needs met leads to improved well-being. The recent study we mentioned earlier also looked at need strength. In other words, people vary in how important each need is to them. You can imagine some people value these needs in different amounts. One person may really need to feel connected at work but cares a little less about competence and autonomy. At the same time, someone else may feel very strongly about autonomy but doesn’t care too much about being connected to others at work. While we all have these needs, the importance of these needs are not the same for each person.

So, what do we know about daily energy? We recently learned that satisfying the need for autonomy and competence in a day leads to more positive energy at the end of that day. In other words, if you feel like you had some control over your work and that you did a good job, you will feel more energetic that day. Meeting these 2 needs daily can have a meaningful impact on how employees feel each day.

But what about relatedness? This one is interesting. That’s where this idea of need strength comes in. People that had a high need for relatedness also saw an increase in their energy if the need was satisfied. However, people that didn’t care as much about connecting with others did not benefit if that need was met. In other words, only employees that really need that connection are more energized by the end of the day if they get that need met.

If we can get our needs met during the day, we will have more energy!

Therefore, on a daily basis, it’s important for every employee to be able to feel autonomy and competence. In addition, employees that have a high need for relatedness should also have that need met each day.

What Can You Do

Take a moment and think about your needs at work. Do you feel these needs? How important is connecting with others on a daily basis? Here’s a few things you can do to help yourself feel more energized and well at the end of the day:

  • For Autonomy: Take control where you can. Can you shift your tasks around so that you aren’t doing all the boring ones at once? Can you mix in some of your favorite tasks instead? Think about how you can take some control or make some decisions about your work each and every day.
  • For Competence: Make a to-do list! This might be the easiest way to make you feel accomplished. Make your list manageable. It should be one you can complete in one day. That way, you can feel effective when the day is done. You finished all your key tasks!
  • For Relatedness (if you feel strongly about it): If you are one of those that has a high need for relatedness, make sure you take the time to satisfy that need each day. Schedule 15 minutes to call a coworker and connect. Send an email to your team members, expressing your appreciation for their work. Reach out to others to create small, positive interactions to help you feel like part of the team. This need can actually be harder in the time of coronavirus so go check out our tips about connecting with remote coworkers if you need more ideas!

And, managers, you can help your team members too! Think about how you can help them have more autonomy on the job, recognize them for good work, and hold team meetings to help everyone feel included and part of the group!

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