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The three critical ingredients your employees really want from their work

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

If you were going to ask yourself today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? Perhaps an image of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is cropping up for you?

Knowing what your people are motivated by is important - not only so that they have a brilliant employee experience and enjoy their place of work, but for you to ensure that you are attracting and retaining your best talent, avoiding expensive attrition costs and positioning yourself with competitive advantage.

So what really matters to your employees?

A Harvard Business Review explains that it boils down to the three C's: Career, Community and Cause.

Career, Community and Cause make up what is known as ‘the psychological contract’ and they must be present if you want to keep hold of your people.

Let's have a look at what each one means for your employees:

1 - Career

Is about having a job that provides you with autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It is at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

2 - Community

Is about people. Feeling respected, cared about and recognised by others. It has undertones of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

3 - Cause

Is about purpose and feeling that you are making a meaningful impact. You want to be able to identify with your organisation's mission, understanding and connecting with the WHY. Believing that you contribute to some greater good for the world, you in turn have a sense of pride in all that you do.

For employers who want to ensure they attract, and retain, the best talent they will need to place a greater focus on the needs of their employees.

In the past it was pretty normal for companies to build entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract.


You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career




a close-knit community




a meaningful cause


When I work with women who have left their companies during parental leave it's normally because one of the C's has been overlooked - perhaps their career progression has stalled, or they no longer felt part of the team, or maybe they now wanted their work to be even more meaningful if it means leaving their bundle of joy at home.

You can de-risk the likelihood of this attrition by tapping into my expertise of supporting new parents through this transition, and introducing further support for your parental leavers and returners so that they don’t slip through the net.

These blogs provide more ideas to help you retain your talent:

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