Three Things Employees Really Want at Work

Employees, as it turns out, are not particularly demanding creatures. Our research turned up a few consistent workplace needs, and they’re all reasonable. In fact, they’re more than reasonable. They’re mutually beneficial. You see, the top three things employees really want at work all contribute to their ability to perform better. Take a look.


At the risk of sounding like a petulant ’90s teen… duh. It should go without saying that respect is table stakes in the workplace. Yes, large gestures like public praise and recognition show that you value your staff. But there are also small, subtle behaviors that employers can adopt that show their respect that make a big difference. For example, showing respect for a colleague’s time by making a phone call instead of forwarding a long email thread or meeting a deadline. There are a lot of simple acts of respect that add up to a larger feeling overall.


There are few things as frustrating as not being able to do your job without constantly asking for help from others. A consistent point of feedback we hear from our HR and communications audiences in particular is that they really appreciate technology that they can use independently. The frustration sets in when they need to wait on IT to do some complicated, back end coding in order to do their job. When an employer supplies them with technology that’s easy to use so that they can take a task from start to finish, that sense of pride makes a huge impact.

Meaningful work

This one’s a doozy. Not only do we hear about it in our daily lives as we research employee experience trends, we heard about it directly from Forrester analyst David K. Johnson, who was a guest speaker on a webinar we ran a few months back. (If you haven’t seen it, definitely check out the on demand version.)

“[The] most important thing was being able to make progress every single day in the work that they believe is most important.”

-David K. Johnson, Forrester Analyst

According to David, employees want, above all else, to feel that they can make daily progress on meaningful work. If you think about it, that makes complete sense. Why would you want to spend your days away from your family, working on something you don’t think has any value? Or worse, working tirelessly but never moving forward? Nobody wants that. They want meaningful work and the tools required to succeed.

Bonus: Flexibility

I like you, so I thought I’d include a bonus piece.

This one is consistently mentioned at least once in nearly 1 in 3 articles about employee engagement, satisfaction, and experience. If the article is about millennials, it’s usually mentioned many more times.

Employees want – no, need – the ability to manage their professional and personal lives without compromising on either. Historically, we were expected to sacrifice family, friends, and hobbies for work. Today, that’s no longer accepted. We all want to be able to see our kids’ baseball games or join a book club. Employers who allow their staff to work a flexible schedule, instead of a rigid 9-5 are helping make that dream a reality.

There you have it, folks. The top 3 (plus a bonus 4th) things employees really want.

For more information about employee experience, and the technology that supports the EX initiative at organizations like ING, Vodafone, and the Boston Red Sox, click here.

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