The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

By: Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, Brynn Harrington, and Adam Grant for the Harvard Business Review 

Strike up a conversation about work values, and it won’t be long before someone brings up a pyramid — a famous psychologist’s best-known theory. Abraham Maslow’s big idea was that we all have a hierarchy of needs: once our basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, we seek love and belongingness, then self-esteem and prestige, and finally self-actualization. But that pyramid was built more than half a century ago, and psychologists have recently concluded that it’s in need of renovation.

When you review the evidence from the past few decades of social science, it’s hard to argue with Maslow’s starting point. If your basic needs aren’t met, it’s hard to focus on anything else. If you have a job that doesn’t pay enough, and you’re up all night worrying about survival, chances are you won’t spend much time dwelling on self-actualization.

But Maslow built his pyramid at the dawn of the human relations movement when so many workplaces in the manufacturing economy didn’t have basic physiological and safety needs covered. Today more companies are operating in knowledge and service economies. They’re not just fulfilling basic needs; they’re aiming to fulfill every need, providing conveniences like meals and gyms, and competing to be the best places to work (from 1984 through 2011, those that won outperformed their peers on stock returns by 2.3% to 3.8% per year). In those environments, survival isn’t in question.

And once you get past that layer of the pyramid, the rest of it falls apart. People don’t need to be loved before they strive for prestige and achievement. And they don’t wait for those needs to be fulfilled before pursuing personal growth and self-expression.

If Maslow were designing his pyramid from scratch today to explain what motivates people at work, beyond the basics, what would it look like? That’s a question we set out to answer at Facebook, in collaboration with our people analytics team.

We survey our workforce twice a year, asking what employees value most. After examining hundreds of thousands of answers over and over again, we identified three big buckets of motivators: career, community, and cause.

Career is about work: having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

Cause is about purpose: feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

These three buckets make up what’s called the psychological contract — the unwritten expectations and obligations between employees and employers. When that contract is fulfilled, people bring their whole selves to work. But when it’s breached, people become less satisfied and committed. They contribute less. They perform worse.

In the past, organizations built entire cultures around just one aspect of the psychological contract. You could recruit, motivate, and retain people by promising a great career or a close-knit community or a meaningful cause. But we’ve found that many people want more. In our most recent survey, more than a quarter of Facebook employees rated all three buckets as important. They wanted a career and a community and a cause. And 90% of our people had a tie in importance between at least two of the three buckets.

Wondering whether certain motivators would jump out for particular people or places, we broke the data down by categories. We started with age.

There’s a lot of talk about how different Millennials are from everyone else, but we found that priorities were strikingly similar across age groups.


Contrary to the belief that Millennials are more concerned with meaning and purpose, we found that younger people cared slightly less about cause — and slightly more about career — than older people. In fact, people ages 55 and above are the onlygroup at Facebook who care significantly more about cause than about career and community. This tracks with evidence that around mid-life, people become more concerned about contributing to society and less focused on individual career enhancement.

But overall, the differences between age groups were tiny. And that’s not just true at Facebook. In a nationally representative study of Americans across generations, Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Gen Xers had the same core work values — and tended to rank them in the same order of importance. As we’ve said before, Millennials want essentially the same things as the rest of us.

We also didn’t see any major differences by level, or by performance reviews: people valued these three motivators whether they were exceeding, meeting, or falling short of expectations. And when we compared office locations, it was clear that career, community, and cause were all prized around the globe.


Finally, we turned to function. “If it weren’t for the people,” Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “the world would be an engineer’s paradise.” Survey says: false. Our engineers care a lot about community, giving it an average rating of 4.18 on a 1-5 scale. And just as we saw with age and location, across functions people rated career, community, and cause as similarly important.


“To know what one really wants,” Maslow argued, “is a considerable psychological achievement.” Our data suggest that people are very clear on what they want at work — and they fundamentally want the same things. When it comes to an ideal job, most of us are looking for a career, a community, and a cause. These are important motivators whether you’re 20 or 60, working in engineering or sales, in Luleå or São Paulo or Singapore or Detroit. We’re all hoping to find a what, a who, and a why.

Hiring: Plan Ahead, Ideal Fit Takes Time

By Kristen Harris

“Never make a decision until you have to.” – Randy Pausch

As hiring managers and job candidates, we’re all looking for an Ideal Fit. Whatever term you use to describe it, we all want to find someone who is a good fit for our team, or a work opportunity that feels “just right”. If you’re not sure how to assess an Ideal Fit, check out our article Hiring: What’s an “Ideal Fit”?

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time. It’s not something you can rush through, yet we’re often pressured to make quick decisions. Hiring managers need to quickly assess whether a candidate is the right fit for their team and realize that candidate is probably talking to other companies too. When you find the right person, you feel pressured to make an offer before someone else does.

On the other side, with all of the options and opportunities, candidates are getting offered roles more quickly and feel pressured to accept. They may get multiple offers and need to make the right choice for themselves and their career.

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time, but with all the pressure to make a quick decision, we don’t have time. How to resolve this seemingly impossible conundrum? By putting in our time beforehand, so we’re prepared to make a quick decision when the clock is ticking.

Never make a decision until you have to, but be prepared to make a decision when you need to. When you’ve spent time getting clear on what the Ideal Fit is for you, then it’s much easier to make that quick decision when the pressure is on.

For hiring managers, it’s important to be very clear on what matters to you, your company, and your team. Identify the must-haves vs nice-to-haves for any role you’re trying to fill. What is required for success in this role? What skills, experience or background are necessary? What type of personality traits or soft skills are you looking for? What’s important to your company? What is your culture like? Make a list of everything you’re looking for, ranked from most important to least.

For individuals seeking a new role, project, or work opportunity, you need to know what matters the most to you (and what doesn’t). Are you looking for higher pay? More interesting projects? The opportunity to learn new skills or grow the breadth of your work? To work with a particular person or for a certain company? Is flexibility or a specific work schedule important to you? Stability and predictability, or new exciting challenges every day? What kind of culture do you thrive in? Write it all down, in order of priority.

A prioritized list of what matters the most gives you a base to compare against when making decisions. Let’s be honest, no person or job is completely, 100% perfect. There will always be compromises. You need to know what matters most, your deal-breakers vs nice-to-haves.

When you’re clear on what’s most important, making decisions becomes easier, even under pressure. Compare every candidate or opportunity to your list. How does the person or role measure up against your must-haves? If all those boxes are checked, then look at the nice-to-haves. Those probably won’t all be covered, so decide where you’re willing to compromise. You’ve already set your priorities; you decided that the items lower on your list are less important to you. Now, take a breath, listen to your gut, and make your decision.

Finding the Ideal Fit takes time that we don’t have in the heat of the moment. By spending time beforehand to identify what’s most important, we can quickly make a better decision when the pressure is on.

Are Job Interviews A Waste of Time?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

If you are meeting with too many people or you are hiring people only to find out that they are not the right fit, your time is better spent doing something else.

So are job interviews a waste of time?* Sometimes...

We have a few proven tips to help ensure that your next experience interviewing yields the right results.  

Don’t oversell the job.

As a business owner I have been guilty of this. It’s easy to be overly enthusiastic that someone is interested in working for you that you spend the entire interview selling the job to the candidate. You cannot hide your enthusiasm! The candidate gets caught up as well and no real questions are asked. You are just so happy someone wants to work for you. Let them talk. And talk and talk. You will get more information out of a candidate if you ask a question and just wait for the true answer to be revealed.

Don't stick too closely to their resume.

Another common mistake is only going over what is on the candidate's resume. Anyone can read it, so going over it all again is just more time wasted. Basing the conversation on what is only on the resume simply completes a checklist. Nothing else. Use it as a guide or better yet, come up with some questions based on the resume. “I see that you have experience in project management, describe to me a typical project or how you like to work.” “You were at Company X for 10 years, how did you keep challenging yourself.” “You were at Company Y for only a year. How did it not meet your expectations?”

Do ask questions that uncover cultural fit.

It's easy to stick to the typical, tried-and-true, questions that may or may not have any relevance to what it is that you need. Really think about the answer that you are looking for when asking those questions. Also, beware of getting too personal so as not to violate any employment laws. People tend to just look at work history vs. potential and cultural fit. Skills can be taught. Personality and culture cannot.

What you can do to make the most of your time is to have the best candidates do assessments regarding their behavior and fit with the company. A few examples of those a DiSC assessments, Berkman, or keep it simple with StrengthFinders. The results you be that you learn a little more about how they will function within your team. You see how they really are and how they might be a fit. The candidate may also learn something about themselves.

Do spend time on their values and how they will align with your company. 

Finally, set up some questions around the values of your company. You want to know how they would solve a problem? Give them a scenario they would experience in their role. Ask how they feel about timeliness. Are they a morning person? How do they keep themselves accountable? Go deeper and ask specifically what their values are, or their work ethic. Are they saying anything close to what you believe in? Why do they want to work for you? Money? Or do they match your purpose? People want more then a job, they want a purpose, they want a reason to stay. Make sure that is a match. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep them with you and with the costs involved in hiring and firing, it is not a good investment.

Interviews do not have to be a waste of time if you are very selective with who you meet. They can actually be time well spent if that time is used to really get to know your next employee.

*This is a rebuttal piece to a recent Bloomberg article titled Job Interviews Are Useless.

Hire People That Believe In What You Do

By Catherine Lang-Cline

If you have ever had to hire anyone in the past, you know that there are many people that will apply. You need to find the right fit. The easy way to find a good candidate is to find someone that matches the skill set that you want. Look at the resume and check off each skill from the list. But that rarely results in a great candidate.

Humans are an intelligent species and typically a person can be taught a skill. It may vary as to how good they can become in that skill, but if they know similar software, for example, they can be taught a new one. What can’t be taught is culture. What can’t be taught is a belief in what you do.

Believe it or not, you can interview for that.

Many companies hire people that fit their job description. The excellent few companies hire people that believe in what the companies believes in. If you company exists because you wanted to make a change, hire others that believe in that change. Here at Portfolio Creative, we believe in providing our clients with the best candidates, the candidates that we would have selected to perform a task when we worked in advertising and marketing. We believe that the people we place should earn fair pay and have access to healthcare plans as well as be eligible for PTO. We believe that artists and the artists that hire them should be treated differently because they are different.

We hire people internally that also believe in our mission. Your mission might be selling fair-trade goods, local goods, organic goods, and providing a really specialized service. What better way to build on that then to hire people that can be evangelists for what you do. The people that really believe in your mission.

So while we could hire people that are merely driven, instead we hire driven people that believe in all that we do. Because a placement is a person and not just a butt in a seat. What are some of the things that your company stands for and believes in, or what do YOU believe in? Find a candidate that is a match and you will have an engaged, involved, and driven employee that is doing more then completing a job.


Gauge The Fit Before You Commit

By Kristen Harris

"Fit" seems to be something we're always looking for--whether we're seeking a love interest, career options, or a new pair of jeans. Cinderella's glass slipper fit only her dainty foot. When Goldilocks checked out the dwelling of the three bears, one bed was too big, one too small, and one was just right.

Not only found in fairytales, "just right" is an important factor in finding the right kind of work as well. But what exactly does "find the right fit" mean when it comes to job opportunities?

Ten Ways to Test Job Fit:

1. Values Match. Do the company values align with yours? Do you agree with what they believe is important and critical to success? Is what the company believes similar to the way you live your life? If yes, you should feel comfortable and succeed within the culture.

2. Like the Company. Do you like and believe in what the company does? Is the product or service provided interesting or important to you? Are you already a user or admirer? A passionate employee truly believes in what the company is producing. At a minimum you can't disagree with it, no matter how badly you want the job.

3. Interesting Work. Is the role interesting and challenging to you? Do you enjoy (at least most of) the tasks you'll be performing every day? Will you wake up excited to do this job? Even when you think the company is great, if you're not enthusiastic about your part it's hard to remain engaged.

4. Role Matches Skills. Does the position match your skill set fairly closely? Is the role one where you can utilize many of your skills? Can you be excellent at this job? Additional skills can be learned, but make sure you have the basics required to be successful.

5. Room to Grow. Does the role offer opportunity for growth? Is it challenging enough that you'll keep learning and stay engaged? Are there growth opportunities within the company? Don't ask for more until you've mastered your current responsibilities, but always be looking for ways to grow and improve.

6. Connect with the Team. Do you seem to fit in well with the team you'll be a part of? Do you like these people? Will you get along with them on a daily basis? You'll probably see your co-workers more waking hours than anyone else in your life, make sure you enjoy spending time together.

7. Get Along with the Manager. Do you seem to connect well with your manager or supervisor? Can you learn from this person? Will you work well together? The saying "people don't quit companies, they quit managers" applies here. A good relationship with you manager can make a big difference in your engagement and success at the company.

8. Pace of Work. Is the company in a fast-moving, reactionary type of industry? Or a slower, more deliberate business burdened with regulation? Is the work pace, and expectation, faster or slower? And how well does that match your own work style? There's no wrong answer here, but there are wrong matches; find a pace that matches yours.

9. Schedule that Fits. Is the schedule one that you can commit to? Are there a lot of late nights and overtime? Or are the office hours pretty set and predictable? Are you clear on the expectations for availability and can you meet them? Again. Not necessarily any wrong answers here, but definitely wrong fits. Make sure you can commit to what is expected.

10. Acceptable Pay Range. Does the position come with a pay range that works for you? Do you think the pay is fair for the work expected? Can the company afford your level of skills and expertise? Don't get too stuck on a number, consider all facets including future opportunities for growth and promotion, or getting your foot in the door with a company you really like. Everyone has a bottom-line; know what yours is and then consider all the factors.

Consider these areas for your current job or any future position you may be considering, and be completely honest with yourself. A great fit can lead to happily ever after.

Unicorns and Leprechauns: Stop Waiting for the Perfect Candidate

By Kristen Harris

Quick quiz...which of the following really exist?

a. Unicorns
b. Leprechauns 
c. Purple Squirrels
d. Perfect Candidates

Sorry, it’s a trick question. The correct answer is “e. None of the above.” Just like unicorns and leprechauns, no matter how strongly you want to believe, perfect candidates simply don’t exist. No single person has all of the skills you want, the specific years of experience you desire, fits smoothly into your culture, gets stellar reference reviews, positively impacts your business from day one, and wants to be paid exactly what you’re offering. 

I hear you protesting—you believe you HAVE found the perfect candidate. This wonderful, magical person seems to be everything you wished for. Am I saying you shouldn’t hire them? Of course not! Snap them up now before your competitor does. Just be aware, no matter how perfect they seem, here is always something you’ll need to work on. And that’s okay. Imperfection equals opportunity. 

Maybe you believe it’s worth waiting for that perfect person to show up. Please don’t. It’s a futile exercise that eats up valuable time and resources. You could wait forever to find the “perfect person.” Or you could hire someone who is a very close fit, develop them in a few minor areas, and see results quickly. 

When hiring there are always concessions or compromises to be made. The important thing is to know where you’re compromising, and what it will take to develop this candidate to where you need them to be. 

My best advice when adding a new person to your team is to look for the BEST POSSIBLE FIT and then fill in the gaps. What does that look like?

• Find a person who has most of the skills you want, and is eager to learn more.

• Look for someone with the right kind of experience doing the right types of work, without getting too hung up on a specific number of years. 

• Be very particular and focused about screening for culture fit. If they fit your culture, embrace your values, and buy into your mission, they’ll be excited and enthusiastic about learning what they don’t know. I can’t emphasize enough how important culture fit is; the right fit is different for every company.

• Listen very closely to reference reviews; what the reference doesn’t say is as important as what they do say. Also, ask around, don’t just call people provided by the candidate. Reach out to your network; ask people you trust about past experiences and interactions with this person. 

• Consider the potential impact this candidate can make on your organization, and what it will take to get them to that point. How quickly will they be productive? What kind of time and resources will it take to get them there?

• Be realistic and flexible on a point. Do your research to make sure what you’re offering is appropriate for the role, and consider the value this person will bring to your organization. How does that value compare to what they’re asking for?

No matter what role you’re looking to fill, perfect candidates don’t exist. Find the best possible fit for your needs, identify the areas where they’ll need to improve, and help them grow. Get as close as possible to perfect. In an imperfect world, that’s all you can ask for.