If you’re trying to motivate your employees today, forget Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you want to connect with your employees in ways they value you’ve got to think in terms of their Hierarchy of Wants. Today’s employees want the following in their jobs from Day One and as they perform well and demonstrate ongoing commitment to their work.
Level 1: Purpose & Meaning – Every employee needs to feel that the job they are doing is important and has purpose and meaning. This can and should be provided to each employee by their immediate supervisor or manager. They need to know the “big picture” as to how their work ties into the larger goals and objectives of the organization, to feel they are a part of something larger than themselves so they have a chance to be proud of their job, their group and of being a member of the organization as a whole.
Level 2: Trust & Respect – Every employee needs to be treated with a professional courtesy, trust and respect in all circumstances and interactions at all times, regardless of their level, position or tenure with the company. This is a given right, not an earned one. Employees should be given the benefit of the doubt and supported in doing the jobs they were hired to do wherever possible, even and especially when they make mistakes.
Level 3: Communication & Information – Every employee has the right and should be encouraged to ask questions with the expectation that those questions will be answered. They are entitled to know what is going on in their department and the organization at large – especially when that information is useful in having them do their job. They should have access to whoever in the organization can provide them the information they need to do their job, regardless of level, department or facility.
Level 4: Praise & Recognition – Every employee should be appreciated for the effort they bring to their jobs and be thanked and recognized whenever they do a good job. This recognition should occur in a timely, sincere way in both informal and formal ways, one-on-one as well as in public. Employees should be given visibility and credit for what they have achieved, and allowed to have fun and celebrate both individual and collective successes when those occur.
Level 5: Autonomy & Flexibility – Every employee should be given the chance to determine how best to do their jobs, as well as increased authority and leeway in the handling of company resources and the ability to represent their manager, department and organization as they demonstrate they can do their jobs well. Flexibility – in working hours and location (e.g., the ability to work from home) should be an earned right based on proven performance.
Level 6: Involvement & Encouragement – Every employee should be asked their opinion, encouraged in their work, and involved in decisions – especially as those decisions affect their work. Every employee should be allowed to bring up an idea or make a suggestion without it being ridiculed or having it dismissed without consideration. Where possible, employees should be allowed and encouraged to pursue their ideas for making improvements to processes, products and services of the organization.
Level 7: Learning, Opportunity & Growth – Every employee should be allowed to have some aspects of their jobs that are interesting to them, the opportunity to learn and grow, to have fun and be able to enjoy their work and who they work with, to be excited and engaged in their work, and to be given increasing levels of responsibility, challenges and opportunities to learn as they have excelled with those previously granted to them.
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