How To Support Your Employees During These Changing Times

By integrating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in our strategy, we now have a more structured approach on how to support employees during these challenging times.

This pandemic has caught all of us off guard. But this should not stop us from creating productive, supportive, and pro-employee workplaces. A good manager or owner will always ask how he can support his employees during these challenging times. We will address that in this article using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to provide us with a more structured approach.

Let’s begin.

Level 1️⃣: Physiological Needs – Meeting The Most Essential Needs of Your Employees

The first level or the foundation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is Physiological Needs. These include the very basic things we need for our survival like food, water, clothing, and shelter. As an employer, you can help address these needs by:

🙌 Paying your employees on time

How would your employees feel if you miss a salary payment? Remember that your employees rely on you to help them make ends meet — especially during these challenging times. Missing a salary payment does not only ruin their trust but may also put your employee’s survival in jeopardy.

🙌 Offer benefits to help employees manage their cash flow

Educating your employees about proper money management can go a long way. Start by giving them tips on how to budget. You can also give them access to financial literacy workshops that are available in your area or online. Another way to help is by offering salary advances in case of emergencies — this way your employees will not be buried in high-interest debts.

🙌 Give your employees quick access to key information via self-service

Need to request time-off? Need a copy of recent payslips for a loan application? Need to update personal details? By providing a centralized, self-service platform to your employees, they will have the ability to address these needs when they need it.

🙌 Centralize your records

Paperwork takes a lot of valuable time. By keeping a centralized, digital archive of all your company records and policies, you can keep your business organized and your back office can attend to pressing employee needs promptly. It can also save you a lot of time which you can use to improve your business and helping out your employees.

Level 2️⃣: Safety – Creating a Safe and Supporting Environment in the Workplace

The second level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs deals with a person’s need for security and safety. This includes health and wellness, safety against accidents, financial security, etc. Below are some tips on how you can address these needs in your workplace:

🙌 Give your employees the option to work remotely

With no vaccine available and Covid-19 cases are still increasing, it’s natural for employees to be reluctant to go back to work in the fear of contracting the virus. We are now living in a “new normal” where remote work and flexible working schedules are becoming the norm. Embrace this and offer your employees the flexibility to do the same. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it. 

If one of your employees is having trouble with his workspace set up at home, reach out. You can always lend an office chair or monitor to help them work more effectively.

🙌 Keep your employees up to date with your holiday and sickness policies

As your employees return to work, your holiday and sickness policies will provide crucial guidance to them. Keep your employees in the loop by making sure these policies are transparent, easily-accessible, and well-communicated within your workforce. Taking advantage of a centralized HR platform where you can upload these policies can help make the information readily available to your employees even when they’re not in the office.

🙌 Use technology to your advantage

The use of technology in the workplace has become more important than ever as we shift to a “digital workspace” in this new normal. Dedicated chat tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack are a great way to create encapsulating, secure places of internal communication. Cloud storage and collaboration tools allow multiple people to work simultaneously on the same document while with mobile access, employees can collaborate from wherever they are. Give the right tools to your team, and they will create workflows utilizing them.

Level 3️⃣: The Need to Belong – Keeping Your Workforce Engaged and Connected

The third level of Maslow’s pyramid is the need to belong. After all, human beings are social beings. We thrive and survive as a group rather than as an individual — so it makes sense to make belongingness a key part of our strategy in helping employees cope up with changing times. Below are some tips on how you can keep your employees motivated in the workplace as they struggle to find a balance between life and work:

🙌 Have regular conversations with your employees

Regular conversations help you take a close look at how your employees are doing. You can do this effectively by checking in with your team regularly through 1:1s. You should do this on top of the regular calls, emails, and chats. Employees tend to open up more in structured, personal get-togethers. For teams that you don’t interact with daily (i.e. remote teams), a weekly all-hands video call is a great way to forge and nurture relationships.

Remember that video calls and 1:1s are not always about you. Use this opportunity to educate your employees, to keep them up to date with the latest developments in the company, and to help them reach their goals.

🙌 Overcommunicate

Don’t be afraid to over-communicate the same thing over and over again. Remember that repetition precedes perfection. By over-communicating, you keep your employees from creating their own versions of your communications. Misalignment can easily happen in remote work settings if communication is poor. 

You can do this by using cc’d lists in your emails. Or better, by creating special groups in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or whatever chat platform you are using in your business. For example, in our team we have special groups for positive news and jokes – this helps keep the whole team engaged, even if those are things not specifically related to their day-to-day work.

🙌 Make use of pulse surveys and act on the feedback you receive

How will you measure your performance as a manager? One way is to ask for feedback through pulse surveys. These surveys are usually short, with a few open-ended questions that are sent out to your employees regularly. Most modern HR systems with performance modules can help you create and distribute pulse surveys in just a few clicks. 

But how good are feedback without action on your end? The best way to show your commitment to become a good manager is by listening to the feedback you receive and doing your best to improve.

Level 4️⃣: Esteem Needs – Reward and Recognise Your Employees

The fourth level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is the need for appreciation and recognition. This need will become a major motivator of behaviour once the first three levels are fulfilled. It’s natural for us to need to feel that we are making a valuable contribution to whatever organisation we belong to. Employees who are not recognized and appreciated often feels inferior and unmotivated to give their best at work.  

Below are some tips on how you can address these needs in your company:

🙌 Recognise your employee’s achievements

Money is now always the answer. And given that business is slow during this pandemic, we need to put every penny where it matters most. So how do you reward employees without spending anything? I have two suggestions: 

  • Sincerely write a personal note describing how proud and grateful you are of your employee’s effort. 
  • Highlight your employee’s achievements in a company meeting, in a newsletter, or in your company intranet.

🙌 Encourage social recognition

Given how many hours an employee spends each week at work, being recognised by his or her colleagues is important. So, as a manager, you should provide a way to encourage this. Modern HR Systems with self-service features usually have an option where you can give quick feedback and praises to your peers.

🙌 Be creative in your rewards

You can also reward performing employees with non-monetary perks. For example, a day off or flexible work on a birthday, a handwritten thank you note, or agreements like four-day workweeks.  

Rewarding your employees doesn’t have to be always about money.

Level 5️⃣: The Need for Self-Actualization – Setting Up Your Employees for Long-term Growth

The last and the peak of Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is self-actualization or the need to achieve one’s full potential. Employees are concerned about personal and professional growth. They don’t want to be stuck in the same job description forever. Here are some ways on how you can set up your employees for long-term growth

🙌 Track performance goals and progress

Use a system that helps you track the progress of your employees. This system can be OKRs, SMART, or whatever is most applicable to your business. Track and review these metrics regularly. Measure what matters and be consistent about it. Most modern HR systems have goal tracking modules built into them to help you.

🙌 Talk to your employees about goals and career development

Constructive conversations about career development and professional goals of your employees should be part of your 1:1 conversations. Make your employees feel accountable and empowered when it comes to achieving their goals. Help them see your vision and show them how they can run with it.

🙌 Provide mentorship and coaching opportunities

Do you want to have a more skilled and dedicated workforce? Consider giving eligible employees mentorship and coaching opportunities to help them upskill. It’s important to define the desired achievement and getting both sides to agree on it. The mission is to meet both individual and organisation goals.

 🙌 Consider job sharing or swapping

Job sharing and swapping employees from various departments is a great way to help your workers gain new skills and perspective without investing a lot of money.


By integrating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in our strategy, we now have a more structured approach on how to support employees during these challenging times. To summarize, business owners and managers should: 

  • Meet the most essential needs of employees
  • Create a safe and supportive environment in the workplace
  • Keep the workforce engaged and connected
  • Reward and recognise employees
  • Set up employees for long-term growth
Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom | Source: Wikipedia
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom | Source: Wikipedia


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Written By

Kaspars Upmanis

SaaS freak, CEO & Co-founder @cakehr