The 5Ps of Employee Fulfillment

The 5Ps of Employee Fulfillment

I live across Lake Washington from Microsoft and I regularly see one of their employees’ pickup buses near my place.  Yes, Microsoft is a big player in the Seattle community, so my interest was piqued when I saw this article on LinkedIn on Dec 11, 2018.  The author is Kathleen Hogan, EVP of Human Resources at Microsoft.


In today’s world, the lines between work and personal time have become blurred and most people rarely leave their work fully “at the office.” As a society, we spend so much of our time working—and thinking about work—that we want our work to have meaning. That’s why I believe we’re seeing an even greater need for people to feel a sense of purpose in their careers. With that in mind, one of my main goals as Chief People Officer at Microsoft is to make sure that working here meets and fulfills the needs of our employees.

But, how do you address this for 130,000 employees worldwide?

What I’ve come to realize is that, similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there is a pyramid of needs that can help employees feel valued and fulfilled at work. I call these the 5Ps of Employee Fulfillment.

These 5Ps were inspired by Dr. Maslow, who —in a quest to understand human potential—mapped the pursuit of happiness as a pyramid, with more basic needs such as psychological and safety needs at the bottom, and self-actualization—the desire to fulfill one’s self—at the top.

The 5Ps work in a very similar way. By fulfilling the basic needs of an employee first, you can then explore the true impact of higher self-actualization needs. Here’s how I think about our 5Ps at Microsoft:

  • Pay. When it comes to work, human behavior is multi-motivated, but pay is a foundational need. Employees want a fair, market-driven wage that recognizes their contributions, and they want opportunity to progress to achieve greater compensation as their scope and impact increases.
  • Perks. We’ve been on a journey to improve, enhance, and broaden our benefits to ensure they reflect our culture, including the expansion of our parental and caregiver leave policies. Building off solid protection benefits addressing health, life and retirement and extending into family benefits and beyond, we strive to offer benefits that empower both our employees and their families to live life well. While perks and pay are critically important to satisfaction and can be very attractive to employees, we recognize there is more we can do to encourage people to not only join our ranks – but to stay.
  • People. People are at the heart of every company, and this could not be any truer for Microsoft. Last year, I shared some of the stories of a few of the employees who inspire me, and those stories just scratch the surface. The people with whom you work, the teams that achieve great innovation, the colleagues who become close friends, combined with a culture that encourages you to grow and be your authentic self, provides a lot of joy and inspiration every day. Deep connections with one another, combined with a sense of inclusion and belonging, (and fun!), is a force multiplier for the first 2 Ps.
  • Pride. From our Autism hiring program, to AI for good, to employees going above and beyond to help their communities through our giving and volunteering program, I am proud of what we stand for. But it’s equally as important that our employees feel the same. Being proud of the organization for which you work, and being proud of the work you do, are primary drivers of motivation and satisfaction. Just as our pay and perks work to provide the foundational support for our employees, we are working hard to ensure each employee feels a deep sense of belonging and pride in our company, and what they do every day.
  • Purpose. Each day, our employees show up to contribute to our ambitious mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet, and ultimately making a difference in the world. As a result, we focus on fostering a workplace where everyone can use the power of the Microsoft platform to pursue their passions, fulfill their purpose, and empower others. It’s core to our mission as well as our culture. When your culture is paired with a purpose-driven mission, employees use your company platform to realize their own aspirations and passions and find deep meaning in what they do – and solutions for some of the world’s biggest challenges result. A deep sense of Purpose combined with Pay, Perks, People and Pride, is where the magic happens.

These 5Ps can apply to any organization, and we are working hard to deliver on all five layers. For me personally –as I reflect on why I am still here after 15 years– I certainly appreciate the pay as a single mom providing for my son. I’m grateful for our incredible benefits that I leverage every year, and I’ve experienced the full extent of those benefits while fighting cancer. I love the people and a culture where I can be myself. I am proud to say I work for a company that stands for what we believe in. And I find deep purpose empowering the people at Microsoft who do amazing things to empower others.

The ability to offer employees all 5Ps is why I love what I do, and it’s my aspiration for everyone.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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