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Yesterday a Syrian migrant, a college student studying electrical inter-telecommunication engineering before she left Syria, was asked by a reporter, “What do you look for in a home?”

“Anyplace. I want to be safe, I want to be happy, I want to work, to have a future, to have a dream.” (BBC, “Hungary to Germany by Train,” September 14, 2015)

In this one sentence, this woman matched Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Though she did put them in a bit of a different order – perhaps a reflection of her youth.

I’m clear work is not home. And I’m clear work cannot be relied on to fill all of our needs – physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

And yet, work is a large portion of our life experience and expenditure. And it is in those workplaces, where those needs are most met, we are most likely to stay and gladly give our blood, sweat and tears.

Beyond a paycheck, beyond supporting the physiological needs for food and shelter, how does your organization support these needs?

Do the individuals on your team feel:

  • they can provide for themselves?
  • they’re safe?
  • they’re working in a context that allows for (or fosters) happiness?
  • part of a work community where they can contribute in way that feels meaningful, and feel valued and appreciated as a result?
  • your organization supports their future?*
  • their employment with your organization ultimately (directly or indirectly) supports their dreams and what they’re up to in the world?

If you don’t know, go ask them.

*PS – In less than a month, registration closes for both our Character & Competency Leadership Development Program & Management Training. These are both excellent, affordable opportunities to support the future and development of new managers and/or potential leadership on your team. For more details, go to

PSS – Great Resource: Chip Conley’s book Peak talks about the role of Maslow’s hierarchy in his success with Joie de Vivre hotels – as applied to employees, customers and investors.


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1.7 min readLast Updated: April 5th, 2021Published On: September 15th, 2015Categories: Improve Employee Engagement, Improving Workplace CultureTags:

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