Here's Why Meaningfulness At Work Matters

Meaningfulness is the difference between laying bricks and building a cathedral. Work without meaning is drudgery, but meaningful work feels effortless.

here is why

Since most people spend most of their waking hours at work, they need to know the time they spend has a positive impact on the world — no matter how small.

When employees feel meaning in their work, they’re more productive, happy, healthy, and engaged. When people clearly understand how their individual contributions benefit the organization and the people it serves, they’re motivated by a whole lot more than a paycheck or set of perks.

Energage has found only 69% of employees at average organizations responded positively to finding meaningfulness in their work. But for organizations that rated as Top Workplaces, this jumps to 82% to 92%.

Quick fixes

 • Encourage teams to discuss how their work makes a difference.

• Find and share stories of how work improves the world for customers.

• Constantly talk about how each person and team contributes to the group.

• Enable employees to find and design their own work methods they can be proud of.

What to watch for

• Remember that everybody finds meaning in a different way.

• Many employees expect the organization to tie work to meaning, rather than seeking it out on their own.

• For people to relate to the vision or mission, it needs to be clearly communicated.

• Remember that organizational growth and revenue are rarely routes to meaning.

Big picture

• Help employees meet or visit clients so they can see the mission in action.

• Ensure the organization’s mission reflects meaning that can resonate with many.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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