What do employees want? Are you delivering?

We’re out at HR Tech World in San Francisco this week.  While the show is about technology, it’s more about strategies and tactics for improving the employee experience.
(It’s never actually been about the technology; technology has always just been a set of tools to help you achieve business results).


A lot of the conversation has been on social media, and here’s one that sums it up well:

(Thanks, @WeirdlyHub for the tweet below.  And shout out to @blueboard for inspiring it during Wednesday’s presentation.
If that Psychology 101 class is a distant memory, here’s a quick recap of Maslow’s Pyramid:


Humans have five distinct levels of needs.  They are:

  1. Physiological Needs (e.g. food, water, sex)
  2. Safety (Protection or Security from harm)
  3. Social Needs (e.g. belonging, friendship, love)
  4. Self-esteem (e.g. a feeling of self-worth; respect from others)
  5. Self-actualization (the fulfillment of one's talents and potentialities)


Maslow’s point was that we seek first to fulfill our lower level needs, before fulfilling our higher-level needs.  For example, we’re not driven to achieve self-esteem (Level 4) if we haven’t had a meal in a week (Level 1), or fearing for our life (Level 2).

What do employees Need?

So, what does this have to do with HR, and the Employee Experience?

Back in the day, most employers felt that their primary responsibility to the employee was to monetarily compensate the employee for their contributions to the company.  That monetary compensation – a paycheck – enabled the employee to buy the food (Level 1) and pay the rent or mortgage (Level 2).


The employer of yore left it to the employee to seek social connections, and establish their own feeling of self-esteem.  If an employee wanted to develop their inborn talents and pursue their passions, they were expected to do it on their own time.

We're no longer "back in the day."  We're moving into the "day after tomorrow."


So, what do employees want?

As the Tweet says, employees are expecting the employer to deliver on all Five levels of our human needs.


Give us the ability to fulfill our physiological needs, or better yet, pay for our healthy gourmet meals in the chic company cafeterias.


Make our work and lives safe.


Give us culture and opportunities to forge friendships in the workplace.  Don’t just let it happen, but make it happen!


Give us meaning to which we can aspire, and the sense that our work is contributing to a greater calling!


And finally, help me find and fulfill my passions.  After all, it’s not about you, the employer.  It’s all about me, the employee.   As your employee, I may be working for you.  But as my employer, you’re here to serve me at all levels.


The Shift

HR technology has officially made the shift from serving HR primarily for HR’s sake, to serving employees, for everyone’s sake.


And that’s not such a bad thing.