Road Trips, Talent and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Kevin Watson - Director of Business Development ·

One of my goals is to make it to all 50 states by the age of 40, and all 7 continents by the age of 60. In order to achieve the domestic portion of this goal, about once a year I embark on an overly ambitious road trip. The goal is to cram as much as I can into a 4 or 5 day journey and see as much of this beautiful country as possible. To give you an idea, the last trip started in Boise, Idaho, and ended in Portland, Oregon, and included 5 states, 4 state capitals, 3 national parks, 2 flights, and 1 rental car. It also included a LOT of caffeine and very little sleep.

While a trip like this doesn’t allow me to fully experience any of these destinations the way I would like to, it does help me to understand which of these places I would like to revisit in the future … and how much time I would truly want to spend there.

During another recent trip, I visited Badlands National Park, Custer National Park, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse Monument. Fair, or unfair, there is some mental benchmarking that goes into deciding how much time I spend at each location, and whether or not I plan on revisiting that place. While both trips were great in their own right, I found myself comparing and contrasting the two. If I am being honest, I would much rather go back to Yellowstone than Mount Rushmore. If I were to make one of those drives again, I personally enjoyed driving through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Washington and Oregon more than I enjoyed driving through Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa.

As I was reflecting on these trips, I found myself drawing parallels to the work environment. As an organization, we work with thousands of employers throughout the country, and they are all trying to win the war on talent by prevailing in the smaller battles on the attraction and retention fronts.

In certain industries, it seems like more and more companies are trying to crack the code on how to get high school and college students interested in pursuing careers in their profession, and more specifically, how to get students excited about working at their company in the future.

I recently sat in on an employer roundtable where manufacturing companies were working on setting up “talent tours” for local students. One employer commented that the tours needed to take place in spring or fall. When prompted, she declared that “if someone visited here in the dead of winter, or the dead of summer, they would never want to work here.”

The comment was made tongue-in-cheek, but there was a hint of seriousness. Another employer talked about how employees are always jumping ship at the first chance to earn an extra fifty cents, because they don’t pay competitive wages. Yet another employer talked about the fact that they are constantly having to lay people off and then bring them back when business picks back up.

These comments got me thinking about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If employers are not (at a minimum) hitting a home run when it comes to their employees’ basic physiological needs and safety needs, how can they expect employees to stick around? We often ask employers, would you want your son or daughter working in this environment? If the answer is no, then it is time to get back to the basics.


  • We believe we can help our customers overcome their most challenging obstacles.
  • We believe in seeing through other people's eyes.
  • We believe that we can make a difference in people's lives.
  • We believe in meeting people where they are today and helping them to realize a better tomorrow.
  • We believe in living our professional lives in service to others.

We hang our hat on this culture, and our values of Show Up, Smile and Support, and others are taking notice. Our recent awards include: Crain’s Cool Places to Work, 101 Best and Brightest – National, When Work Works, Detroit Free Press – Top Workplaces, Best of MichBusiness, and 101 Best and Brightest Sustainable Companies.

If you are interested in learning more about what others are doing to win the war on talent, or are interested in learning more about our comprehensive Organizational Review, we would love to talk to you.

This blog was written by Kevin Watson, Director of Business Development with EDSI. He can be reached at (517) 402-2732 or