Inside Out E-Column: Aligning Employee Engagement with Marketing Communications

Getting to the heart of people.

Most professionals who work in the people side of business have heard about psychologist Abraham Maslow and his renowned hierarchy of needs.  It’s simple on the surface, yet significant in its substance.  All human beings have needs that begin at the most basic level of survival and rise ultimately to what Maslow called “self-actualization.” What’s more, he stated, people must have their needs met at the lower levels before higher needs can be satisfied.

Even though I’m a fan of Maslow’s theory, I talk about it in simpler terms.  For me, it comes down to two main needs – security and self-esteem. If people have those things, they’ll usually perform well.  If they don’t – they won’t.  You can argue that one has to come before the other or one is more important, but that’s like arguing what’s most essential to driving a car – the motor or the steering wheel.  It’s a pointless debate.

Find Out What Matters Most

Still, it’s helpful to examine those two basic needs more closely when it comes to creating a high-performing workplace.  A study was done in 1999 by Dr. Kenneth Kovach of George Mason University that produced interesting findings.  He surveyed thousands of people nationwide to find out what they wanted from their jobs.  Then he took it a step further.  He compared their responses to what their bosses thought was important to the employees.  Take a look at how the responses differed.

Employees Ranking

Motivational Item

Bosses Ranking

1

Interesting work

5

2

Appreciation of work

8

3

Feeling “in on things”

10

4

Job Security

2

5

Good wages

1

6

Promotion/growth

3

7

Good working conditions

4

8

Personal loyalty

6

9

Tactful discipline

7

10

Sympathetic help with problems

9

Tune in to What Motivates

Who’s surprised, right?  Besides the obvious disparity in the responses between employees and bosses, Kovach drew two main conclusions from the data.  First, what employees want most from their jobs can be handled mainly by their supervisors; and second, they are pretty easy and cheap to provide.  Kovach also created a set of questions that managers should ask themselves if they want to create an environment that’s tuned into employee motivations:

    1. Do you personally thank staff for a job well done?
    2. Is feedback timely and specific?
    3. Do you make time to meet with-and listen to-staff on a regular basis?
    4. Is your workplace open, trusting, and fun?
    5. Do you encourage and reward initiative and new ideas?
    6. Do you share information about your organization with staff on a regular basis?
    7. Do you involve staff in decisions, especially those that will affect them?
    8. Do you provide staff with a sense of ownership of their jobs and the unit as a whole?
    9. Do you give associates the chance to succeed?
    10. Do you reward staff based on their performance?

It’s really pretty simple when it comes to understanding employee motivation.  Put yourself in their shoes, and you won’t even need Maslow to figure out what matters most to them.

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One thought on “Getting to the heart of people.”

  1. I totally agree with your statement and findings! Let’s go change he world. It is sometimes the “simple” things like “sincere appreciation of work” that makes the biggest difference and not money as we would like to think.

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