What’s the meaning of this? Employees need to know
When asked why she loves her job, a worker at a janitorial services company said she enjoyed “making a difference in others’ lives by cleaning and being a part of a team.”
That is a clear example of someone understanding the meaning of their work. When they do, they are more productive, committed, happy, and engaged.
And when employees clearly understand how their contributions benefit the organization – and the people they serve – they are motivated by a lot more than a paycheck or perks.
Research by Energage shows companies that rate as Top Workplaces have a workforce that, on average, is 89% positive about finding meaningfulness in their work. At companies that score in the top 10% of Top Workplaces, that positivity number about meaningfulness climbs to an amazing 97%!
Efforts to integrate meaningfulness into your workplace culture are most successful when practiced across all levels of the organization. That means:
- Leaders are responsible for communicating how the work impacts others and how it contributes to the organization’s goals and purpose.
- Managers create a supportive, respectful, and inclusive work environment for their employees and teams.
- Employees also can see the difference they make by interacting with their teams and peers.
If you work at an organization where you think people are struggling to find meaningfulness in their work, here are some suggestions on how to get started:
- Create and share visible reminders of how your company makes a difference, such as customer quotes and pictures.
- Encourage teams to discuss how their work makes a difference.
- Talk often about how each person and team contributes to the group.
- Empower employees to design work processes they are proud to own.
If you want to use meaningfulness as a rallying point to take your organization to the next level, here are some additional ideas:
- Ensure the organization’s mission reflects meaning that can resonate with many.
- Find opportunities to have employees talk with customers to see the company’s mission in action.
- Show employee appreciation and acknowledge the impact of their contributions.
- Encourage employees to think about the ways their work benefits future generations.
- Help employees understand the broader purpose of monotonous tasks that might lack meaningfulness.
Do not assume everyone finds meaning in the same way. Meaningfulness is a personal experience. Employees cannot be required to feel the same level of meaning in the same things. Also, do not expect employees to feel a constant state of meaningfulness.
When leaders communicate a vision and mission that goes beyond pushing for growth and driving revenue, employees can embrace the meaning behind what they do. Even during challenges, making it through a challenging time or helping others can often be highly meaningful.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.