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  • Writer's pictureJulia Makhubela

We, human beings, have the need to matter

We, human beings, have the need to matter.

Mattering meaning valuing ourselves and feeling valued by others.

A philosopher named Rebecca Goldstein came up with the term "the mattering instinct" to explain why we need to feel that we matter. We can’t pursue our goals or contribute to groups and society unless we think our contributions matter.

We bring our need to matter to the workplace.

As individuals, we can meet this need by treating ourselves with compassion and setting healthy boundaries with others. Before performing a task, we can ask ourselves, “why does this matter to me?”. When we engage with ourselves from a place of mattering, we can show up in healthy ways with others.

When we are part of a team, we extend mattering to others. We move from “I matter” to “I matter, and you matter equally”. We show this by treating others respectfully.

Studies shows that employees who feel valued, who know they matter to the organisation, become engaged. Engaged employees have an emotional commitment to an organisation. They go the extra mile, stretch themselves outside of their comfort zone, become brand ambassadors and do all these things because they want to, not because they must. Engaged employees create more value in an organisation than disengaged employees.

If we are in positions of power, and make decisions that affect others, one of the ways that we can ensure people know they matter is through deliberately managing the employee journey:

The employee journey starts with the initial impression a potential employee forms about the organisation and extends to the recruitment and onboarding experience. It includes the day-to-day work environment, relationships with colleagues and leaders, work-life balance, career development opportunities, as well as how personal and professional transitions are handled, and ultimately the employee’s departure from the organisation. To manage this journey requires identifying what people need at each stage of the journey and then meeting that need.

Mattering is a fundamental emotional and social need, similar to the needs for belonging and safety. When it is not fulfilled, we experience suffering. Just like belonging and safety, we fulfill this need through our personal actions and through our experience within groups.

What makes you feel like you matter?

Looking at your answer, who can meet those needs?

How will you get those needs met?

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