In business, as in life, there is a hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow proposed that we have physiological needs (air, water, food, etc.), safety needs (security, health, employment, etc.), love and belonging needs (friends, family, co-workers), esteem needs (respect, status, recognition, etc) and finally self-actualization (a desire to become the most that we can be).

Employees have a hierarchy of needs when they start their workday. Notice I did not say enter their workplace? WFH (Work from Home), an acronym you may not have heard of 90 days ago, is the new reality. WFH is now more than a business buzzword, is a win/win. We have the ability to make our workers feel safe, all the while improving their quality of life and saving money. The synthesis is a business bell ringer.

In May’s Outside Insights, I suggested workers approach their return to work in the following ways:

Change. Be ready for it and welcome it because things have changed, dramatically. Businesses, their business plans and models. Customers, what and how they buy and find value. We are currently living in a time of change, a time to learn or remember how to drive and exploit change. You will be left behind if you do not adapt; you have an opportunity to thrive if you embrace it.

Team. It’s time for “all hands on deck”. Look for what’s not being done and do it. Leave your ego behind if you think some kind of work is below you.

Value. Create value for those around you. Creativity and innovation are necessary for your company and your job to survive. If you are customer-facing, what are their issues and how can you help? If you are not customer-facing, how can you help your own organization? How can you wow your own team or leader by solving an internal problem?

Action. Do something. Pick a task and do it, well. Take a quick breath and tackle something else, but be sure to crush it.

We are another month into the pandemic and the thinking on how to be a valuable worker has not changed, given our new, changing world of work. These four suggestions help to achieve desired results, show respect and cooperation to our fellow workers, and drive creativity and innovation.

Has there been a time in our modern world where innovation, creativity, and employee confidence were as relevant to the survival of a business?

When workers are self-actualized and therefore able to do their best work, business gains an advantage. With demand down for most products and services right now, a business has the potential advantage of the mindset of its people. OR, one more obstacle to overcome if workers lack the feelings of trust and safety.

Now is the time to climb up the hierarchy of needs. Our goal is to establish trust. How do we do that?

Trust building is ongoing and intentional. Trust cannot be achieved through your back to work plan alone. Trust-building is a forever thing.

We do business with people we trust.

We work for leaders we trust.

We work with suppliers we trust.

We have friends at work we trust.

I propose trust as a business strategy. That all parts of your business are working to promote trust.

Trust is built when your culture is words supported by actions.

Trust is built by having a compelling why or purpose.

Trust is built when there is staff alignment with the goals of the business. 

Trust is built when workers are involved in how the business is run and is doing financially.  

Trust is built when your brand is fused with your core values.  

Trust is built when your employees know how and when you communicate. What rhythm, what language of business, and what effort is made to be transparent as possible.

Trust is built with an intentional, long-term way of operating your business.

In the “old days” safety was measured by the sign on the wall in the factory floor that each day tabulated Days without an injury.

As we all come back to the ‘office” in the coming days and weeks the new sign might best summarize the times by listing the days since our business actions rebuilt your trust to be creative and innovative. We need your best right now!

COVID forced a hard reset. Survival will do that. How many days since your actions undid your trust?