Study Explores Method of Meeting Employee Psychological Needs

January 5, 2021by Noah Shaw

Summary of:

Savickaite-Kazlauske, E. (2020). An amalgamated potential model to fulfill employees’ psychological needs and develop inner resources. International Journal of Business and Economic Development, 1(5), 26-34.

Background & Theory:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a wide variety of questions into the workplace, one of which being how leadership can meet employee psychological needs in such a difficult time. Past research has indicated that meeting employee basic psychological needs leads to a myriad of benefits for employees and organizations. This study suggests a new method of meeting employee psychological needs and raising psychological capital through elements of appreciative inquiry and integrated cognitive behavioral coaching.


Research was consolidated by Evelina Savickaite-Kazlauske to answer the following question:

    1. How can an amalgamated model of concepts be applied to organizations to positively affect employee psychological capital and the satisfaction of basic psychological needs?


Existing research on positive organizational scholarship, positive organizational behavior, psychological capital, self-determination theory, appreciative inquiry, and the integrated cognitive behavioral coaching model was analyzed in order to create a new model which aims to satisfy employee psychological needs and increase psychological capital. This new model combines elements of appreciative inquiry and the integrated cognitive behavioral coaching model. A total of 57 resources were utilized to create this working paper of the proposed model.


The author’s proposed model examines the elements of appreciative inquiry and integrative cognitive behavioral coaching, suggesting that combining these methods in the workplace may lead to growth in psychological capital and psychological need satisfaction. This combined approach includes four primary stages:

    1. Discovery: This stage has its roots in appreciative inquiry literature and is the process by which employees engage in the retroactive discovery of the motivating factors that have contributed to their past accomplishments. At work, this could look like management celebrating employee past work experiences as means of making them more aware of their strengths. The employee, better aware of their own strengths after recognition, can more consciously use them. This stage of the model has the potential of satisfying the three psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness set by self-determination theory.
    2. Dream: This stage comes from integrated cognitive behavioral coaching and is typically catered to the individual, focusing on the visualization your ideal self. However, the author suggests this framework could be applied to the organization by way of visualizing a desired future of the workplace. This stage may lead to increased optimism and also has the potential of satisfying all three psychological needs.
    3. Design: This stage entrusts individuals to co-construct their ideal future, attaching specific proactive behaviors to create actionable goals. Cognitive behavior coaching elements may additionally enhance this stage by encouraging individuals to assess their own areas of individual improvement and aligning improvement goals with the goals of the organization. Through the creation of an actionable and hopeful future, this stage may lead to the satisfaction of employee autonomy and competence.
    4. Destiny: This stage focuses on pursuing the previously designed goals, enacting new actionable goals, and building appreciative learning systems among employees. This may look like providing employees with trainings that teach how to stop cycles of negative thinking, how to deal with setbacks, and increasing individual resilience. With this structure, employees likely will feel more supported to achieve their goals through a solution-focused approach, which may satisfy all three psychological needs.

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away the following key insight:

  • This working paper suggests that workplace leaders can grow employee psychological capital and satisfy basic psychological needs through (1) empowering employees to identify their strengths, (2) supporting employees in identifying their ideal self as it relates to the organization, (3) co-constructing an ideal workplace future with employees, and (4) pursuing that future while planning trainings that encourage productivity and well-being.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: This study affirms the value of coaching techniques on individual improvement. Teaching workplace leaders behavioral coaching techniques may be helpful in increasing employee well-being and decreasing potential workplace conflict.

For Everyone: The model presented here can be followed individually in order to better understand individual strengths and goals. Consider utilizing this as a way to pursue both individual and professional improvement.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and holds a Master's in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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