What is Meaningful Work?

I read an article in Fast Company about meaningful work and how for many employees, having a personal sense of meaning in their work is more important than compensation.

Gallup conducted a poll that shows more than half your staff is ready to leave your company. The article goes on to breakdown how one generation wants to be appreciated while another generation wants work that allows them to improve their skills and balance work and home. The last time I spoke to employees, regardless of their age – they wanted BOTH things.

A professor at Notre Dame says, finding meaningful work begins with the individual examining their own core values and beliefs. “If you are not clear about what matters to you, you’ll never be able to find anything that’s meaningful.” Regardless of your age – this statement applies to everyone looking for ‘meaningful work.’

The bigger question is – how do you help employees that yearn for meaningful work and to make a difference find their place in your organization? I’ve listed four steps to help you get started.

1. Find out what motivates your employees. Once you know what drives them, then you’ll be in a better position to help them achieve meaning in their role.

2. Leaders and Managers need to communicate often what the mission, strategy and goals of the organization are and HOW the team AND the individual impact those areas. For those individuals that want to have a social impact, help them see how your service or product helps locally or globally. For others who are into continuous learning, let them take a class then come back and teach their team mates so everyone can gain new skills.

3. By creating a culture of community; these could range from having an open communication policy where small round table groups from different departments plan the annual outing or simply list various organizations your company can support or non-profits they want to be involved with.

4. Foster continuous learning across the organization at ALL levels. Just because someone is now a Vice President doesn’t mean they can’t continue to learn. Of course, the younger generation (69% per Gallup) rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. When people feel, they are growing professionally and personally, they feel they are contributing to the betterment of their organization.

As you can see there are lots of (inexpensive) ways to help employees find meaningful work within a role, team or organization. The trick is to implement these minor recommendations within your organization starting with the leadership team and then pushing it out to the rest of your employees.

In case you haven’t figured it out – companies that have happy employees also have healthy profits. Happy Employees = Healthy Profits