The Victorian lockdowns of 2021 have tested people’s resilience in new ways. To counter the ongoing threat of business disruption and worker exhaustion, it makes good business and social sense for workplaces to continue to instil a wellbeing culture.  Human flourishing is the experience of feeling good and having high psychological and social functioning. In the workplace, flourishing individuals experience positive emotions, are energised and motivated, find meaning in their work and function well socially by feeling a sense of belonging and wanting to help others. One of the most widely researched motivation and wellbeing theories is Basic Psychological Needs Theory (BPNT). BPNT proposes that all humans have three core psychological needs that must be satisfied in order to maintain wellbeing.

  1. Competence; feeling effective and experiencing mastery.
  2. Autonomy; functioning with volition and congruence with one’s interests and values.
  3. Relatedness; being socially connected, belonging, feeling cared for and giving to others.

Basic need satisfaction at work is linked to a number of desirable organisational outcomes including lower burnout, less stress, increased organisational commitment and proactive, innovative behaviours.

What can workplaces do to support their employees?

The quality of social context is important for BPNT. Behaviours displayed by people who are important to an individual in the workplace, support their competence, autonomy and satisfaction.


Behaviours that support relatedness needs include enquiring about others’ feelings, actively listening and expressing empathy, taking another’s perspective, taking an authentic interest and care, enjoying companionship and taking opportunities to develop connections with others. Activities could include having a weekly 15-minute check-in with the team just to share one highlight from the weekend, or if you know a colleague lives alone you could call to discuss a work matter (rather than emailing), or making sure that the quiet person on the Zoom call is asked for their point of view or endorsement of a decision. While no one needs to ever own another person’s emotions, acknowledging and listening to someone’s feelings (without having to solve their problems!) is a very powerful way to enhance relatedness.


Competence-supportive behaviours from leaders facilitate desired effects and mastery. This includes knowledge sharing, offering tasks that are challenging, yet achievable, providing structure and guidance, and providing informational feedback. People need to be regularly acknowledged for their adaptability in different work conditions including remote working. Informational feedback involves providing a clear explanation of what “done” looks like and acknowledging progress towards “done” before factually outlining gaps or work still to be completed. Scheduling regular checkpoints on progress are extra important during remote working when spontaneous face-to-face discussion and opportunities for questions no longer exist. Peer mentoring on skills as basic as online decluttering or running engaging Zoom sessions, or as complex as mastering the art of business development can support an individual’s need for competence.


Autonomy-supportive behaviours from leaders include offering opportunities for choice and input, encouraging self-initiation, and encouraging staff to problem solve. Encouraging or acknowledging even small improvements and innovations in the workplace can be a great way to satisfy people’s need for autonomy. Giving staff problems to solve with the appropriate guidance and governance can too.

Any of these habits and behaviours will facilitate wellbeing during the good times. They are especially worth cultivating during times of struggle to lift or keep you and your teams at the level of flourishing.

Call Steople today to discuss the Wellbeing and Resilience needs of your team – contact us