In general, associates need the following to be satisfied in the workplace (top 10 list):

  1. To be heard
  2. To be safe
  3. To be paid fairly for the work they do
  4. To have opportunities for advancement
  5. To have a best friend at work
  6. To have a good relationship with their supervisor – employees leave supervisors not companies
  7. To be respected for who they are and what they can contribute
  8. To be a part of a collaborative and supportive team, the sum of which is greater than the parts
  9. To be given the opportunity to win (no one comes to work to lose)
  10. To have hope – that things can and will improve

These findings are validated by several well-known authors. To name a few:

  • Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First Break All the Rules
  • Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Jim Collins, Great by Choice, Good to Great, and Built to Last

Annie McKee, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania Chief Learning Officer program, and author of “How to be Happy at Work” (McKee 2015*), writes that based upon her and her fellow researchers study of multiple organizations and workers, virtually everyone wants three things from their work:

1. A meaningful vision of the future

People want to be able to understand the future and know how they fit in. People learn and change when they have a personal vision that is linked to an organizational vision. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t paint a very compelling vision of the future, or they don’t try to link it to people’s personal visions, and/or they don’t communicate either well. They lose people as a result.

2. A sense of purpose

People want to feel as if their work matters, and that their collaborative contributions help to achieve something important. And except for those at the tippy top, shareholder value normally isn’t a meaningful goal that excites and engages the average worker. They want to know that they — and their organizations — are doing something big that matters to other people.

BTW, while this is a well-known characteristic of millennials, it has also been proven to be true for workers from all generations. It’s just that previous generations may have been willing to put up with more to put bread on the table than millennials are willing to tolerate.

*McKee, Annie. (2015) How to Be Happy at Work. Boston, Massachusetts. Harvard Business, Review Press.

Organizational Hierarchy of Needs

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