The Modern Employee’s Hierarchy of Needs
Digital is permeating every facet of work — we can’t ignore the impact of enterprise technology on the employee experience.
If you expect your employees to do their jobs well, that means you also expect them to use a lot of software at a high level.
Today, the average enterprise has more than 300 mission-critical apps. A single employee could have a dozen or more tools in their daily workflow.
But unless you fulfill employees’ digital needs — with proper onboarding, onscreen guidance, and adequate in-app support — you should expect your digital employee experience to suffer.
Introducing the modern employee’s hierarchy of needs
In 1943, Abraham Maslow introduced the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He proposed that humans have five categories of needs that are classified in a certain order.
Basic needs — like physiological needs and safety — must be fulfilled before a person can focus on fulfilling higher-level needs, including love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Now that organizations are focusing greater attention on the employee experience, the need to understand and fulfill employee needs has become a top priority.
To that end, we created our own hierarchy of needs for employees.
First, focus on the basics
The key to remember is, like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the needs at the base of the pyramid must be satisfied before employees can fulfill higher-level needs.
At work, employees want to feel part of a community. They want the ability to learn new skills, gain valuable experience, and develop their careers. They want to know that the work they do every day makes a real impact — that their contributions are valuable and meaningful.
But until their basic needs are satisfied, it’s impossible to achieve these higher-level needs.
If your employees don’t trust you, you’re in big trouble. And if they can’t use the technology they’re required to use, the digital employee experience will be dismal.
Don’t just be trustworthy — show it
Trust has always been important. But I think now, in the post-truth era in which change is constant, trust in leadership is critical.
Not only is it important for you to be trustworthy, you must also be seen as trustworthy.
That means you need to take concrete steps to demonstrate that you have your employees’ best interests at heart — and you’re competent enough to act on them.
How do you prove you’re trustworthy?
Open communication and transparency are key pillars of trust. By asking employees about their experience, taking their answers to heart, and taking steps to better fulfill their needs, you’ll show your staff they can count on you.
In the era of digital transformation, in which change is constant, trust in leadership is a fundamental precursor to transformation success.
You can’t expect your employees to embrace change if they don’t believe in the person who is asking for it.
Are your employees drowning in the digital deluge?
When you consider that virtually all of your employees’ work is conducted on one platform or another, the urgency to safeguard the digital employee experience rises.
The modern employee is required to work on a broad range of software. Everything from collaboration tools, project management, analytics, and reporting might be conducted on a separate platform.
On top of that, employees are tasked with using the HCM, ERP, CRM, and other core platforms with maximum efficiency.
Not only must they undergo software training, but they must also keep up with frequent updates and new features.
Lack of digital adoption could be hurting your digital employee experience
The challenges of navigating complex interfaces and completing digital processes efficiently can be a major source of stress and frustration, for new and seasoned employees alike.
Not only that, it can have a direct impact on their performance.
We recently conducted a survey to understand how leaders and employees perceive their workplace technology.
Overall, the survey revealed that leaders — the decision-makers behind digital investments — tend to be overly optimistic about technology’s usability and its ability to improve employees’ work.
On the other hand, employees give their digital tools far less credit.
- A mere 14.5% of employees are very satisfied with the usability of their workplace software.
- Just 28.2% of employees agree with the statement, “The digital tools I use at work enable me to improve my productivity and fulfill my responsibilities.”
- 74.1% of employees blame inadequate software training for poor usability.
The numbers speak for themselves: there’s a lack of digital adoption. Employees are struggling to use their workplace software, and it has a major effect on their overall experience.
Enabling digital adoption has emerged as a fundamental leadership duty
Unless leaders address these pain points, employees will continue to struggle.
By prioritizing digital adoption, you can safeguard the digital employee experience and be sure that your staff has their basic needs covered.
The core components of a digital adoption strategy include:
- An evolved approach to software onboarding through contextual learning
- On-screen guidance and engagement tools to provide 24/7 support
- Business process automation to eliminate mundane and repetitive tasks
- User insights to understand where challenges exist in the user journey
It’s up to you to ensure your staff has all of the resources they need to make their work as seamless and efficient as possible.
Pave the way to fulfilling higher-level employee needs
Once you cover employees’ basic needs — trust in leadership and digital adoption — you’ve laid the groundwork to fulfill higher-level needs and provide a great employee experience.
Cultural cohesion, learning and development opportunities, and making an impact are the kinds of desires that not only contribute to employee fulfillment, they also support higher engagement and retention.