Taking  a cue from the paradigm shift in the way individuals in various walks of life are moving from lifelong marriage with their current jobs to a give some & take some approach towards their employers, I am making an attempt to try & relate it to the first ever theory they touch upon in Human resources & Marketing training alike.

An employee today typically works to put “food on the table” (as one of my colleagues chose to put it) However, different individuals have different motivations to don the paint & to go to work every day. Some people work for work for personal fulfillment. Others like to accomplish goals and feel as if they are contributing to a larger goal, something extend their personal selves at work and create an outlet for their creativity through meaningful work. Some of us love we do. Some like to interact with customers and coworkers, thus extending their socialization need to an arena where it does not count as ‘meaningless’. Some like change from the mundane routine of life, challenges everyday decisions throw at them, and diverse problems they get to solve. The expectations from work are diverse. One thing in the melee remains default-Money!

A typical employee today has expectations from his employer commensurate with the expectations the employer has with the employee. From the work & effort that goes into meeting his KRAs he seeks personal development, career inputs, and professional expertise along with the customary paycheck.

In his ‘Learned needs theory’ (also called acquired needs theory), David McClelland classifies an individual’s needs in job functions into 3 sets, namely, Achievement, Affiliation & Power. Other dimensions to these needs would encompass a desire for activity desire for ownership, desire for competence, desire for recognition and a desire for meaning from the 8 hours (or more) spent at work. This would fall in line with Maslow’s triangle in roughly this way (diagram). Certain desires overlap needs classifications & all of them need the lowest (orange) Physiological need (read Money) to be fulfilled.


So if it not about money, why do employees jump jobs at times even ready to pay out huge amounts of severance penalties? The ills that mar work culture in most organizations today are as under:

(Source: personal question answer session of around 500 colleagues, ex-colleagues, friends & families)

  • Company politics
  • Unclear expectations & undefined KRAs
  • Internal competition & zero knowledge transfer between employees
  • Withholding information critical for employees to perform their work
  • Lack of constructive feedback
  • Unnecessary rules & processes to abide by
  • Unproductive, never-ending meetings for employees to attend
  • Like treatment for poor & high performing employees
  • Underutilized capability of employees

These basic needs if taken care of, given equal pay scales in a before/after scenario, chances are bright that the employee performance & motivation to work will soar. Slowly, a few organizations are turning towards non-monetary motivators to ensure high performance. Such organizations do not struggle to capture employee engagement in power points…

They make the effort! Cheers!


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