An extremely wise friend of mine shared with me his perspective on what employees need to be happy and productive in their job. It’s fairly sage advice, and I think it’s worth sharing! In his own words, direct from an email he sent me (with a few omissions and some formatting and punctuation added by me):

From my perspective every employee needs three things… That’s it, just three.

Fun / Friends

Work is stressful, people want to be surrounded with others who can laugh at it. Out of the three, this one is the most impactful, and the most important! If an employee feels they are not valued, paid enough, or have to scrape toilets everyday, they will stick through it – if they feel a personal genuine friendship with their co-workers. Most employees will describe it by saying “I love the people I work with”.

Accountability / Responsibility

I’m not talking about… “Hey, you need to get this done by 5 today!” It’s more about feeling like what you do contributes to the whole objective. That what they have been asked to do is important. That it matters. That if they themselves were not doing it, other processes, teams or products would fail. And in almost all of the positions I have observed in corporations, its true!

To Learn

I believe no one applies for a job thinking, “I am the best person for this position. I am an expert at everything they have outlined on the job posting”. Rather, I believe they apply with a hope to become what is stated. If an employee stops learning, they will move on.

That’s it. I truly believe in one simple equation:

“The Business takes care of the employees, the employee takes care of the customer, the customer takes care of the business.”

Build communities, not cubicles.

Trevor Dow

See? Wise right? I tend to agree. I think we can pick this list apart and come up with other things employees need to be happy and productive, but they will likely distill down to these three. What do you think? What would you add to the list?

Trevor is also working on a pretty intriguing project to change how creative freelancers collaborate and find work. You can find out more information about that at

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