6 Employee Archetypes


6 Employee Archetypes

6 Employee Archetypes

Across Asia, Latin America, and the US, well over 50% of survey respondents stated that COVID-19 has made them reconsider their work-life balance and priorities. Given the labor shortages, skill gaps, and abundance of new options in today’s working environment, companies need to understand how employees have evolved and, correspondingly, how to attain, retain, and support them.

A study by Bain and Co. has identified six general types of workers:

1. Artisan

  • motivation: pursuit of excellence
  • team dynamics: deprioritizes camaraderie
  • other traits: wants autonomy and work that fascinates them

2. Explorer

  • motivation: experiences and autonomy
  • team dynamics: seeks variety and freedom
  • other traits: deprioritizes status; willing to trade security for flexibility

3. Giver

  • motivation: personal growth and helping others
  • team dynamics: strong team spirit
  • other traits: values learning; least motivated by money

4. Operator

  • motivation: meaning outside of work
  • team dynamics: often sees colleagues as friends
  • other traits: risk-averse; doesn’t try to stand out at work

5. Pioneer

  • motivation: changing the world
  • team dynamics: autonomous yet altruistic
  • other traits: risk-tolerant; identifies deeply with their work

6. Striver

  • motivation: status and compensation
  • team dynamics: competitive and transactional
  • other traits: forward-planning; wants to make something of their life

In Japan, most employees are strivers (29%), while the largest groups in Germany and the US are operators (23%). Pioneers comprise 25% of executives, only 13% of knowledge professionals, and 6% of frontline workers. So it’s hardly surprising that company leaders can miss the mark, even when sincerely trying to provide what they think their people want and need.

Looking at these archetypes, it might be tempting to decide, “From now on, I only want givers in my company.” But this, again, would be missing the mark, as every type of worker can contribute a different sort of value – for instance, givers, operators, and strivers might typically make the best team players, but if you need out-of-the-box thinking, then artisans, explorers, and pioneers are your best bets.

One smart way to make great use of this categorization is re-envision the traditional career ladder as more of a ‘career passport’ – with a better understanding of what your employees value and prefer, you cannot just help your people move up in their professional lives but guide them in mapping out the journey that works best for them, as well as for your company.