Every organisation strives to have an engaged workforce, one where people are willing to exert discretionary effort to fulfil a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, to make their mark. Referring to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, this requires one to reach the final state of self-actualisation; a state where all of one’s basic and psychological needs are being met, so that they can have the space to fully realise their personal potential.

However, if we step back and take a moment to reflect upon our South African reality, it quickly becomes clear that we are spiralling between Maslow’s levels daily. We live in a constant state of dichotomy as the narrative and pressure to live a life of purpose and meaning becomes stronger, while we are having to cope in a world where we are unsure if our basic needs (safety, electricity, water, etc) will be met, and in which loneliness and a need for connection is being escalated by the remote/hybrid ‘ disconnect’. This boomerang is mentally, emotionally, and physically gruelling.

What if ‘just a job’ employees are merely displaying exhaustion from spiralling on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? What if they are suffering from burnout, and initiatives aimed at targeting their needs could potentially translate into critical future talent for your organisation? What if your ‘unicorn’ employees, who are so critical to your succession plans, are really headed towards significant stress-related illness? This could have a lasting negative impact upon the future of your organisation and workforce; one that is not easy to bounce back from.

The role of organisations has changed. Education and business institutions are key to making a meaningful difference.  How then do we as leaders help and engage our people?

At JP, we believe that Wellness leads to Wholeness. Only once one has a sense of wholeness do we have the Energy to Engagement and to ultimately Perform. Leaders need to move beyond the core engagement levers, such as remuneration and benefits, and invest in engagement levers that really speak to the heart of their employees. Oftentimes, it is through listening to what your employees are not explicitly saying where lasting solutions are found.

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