Dr. Viktor Frankl is popularly known to have remarked, “Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation of his life.” According to a research, 70% of employees are looking for more meaning at work (Roffey Park, 2003). Meaningful work was found to be the most important factor in commitment, retention and discretionary effort above leadership, managers, colleagues etc. (Paul Fairlie Consulting, 2010). Employees that derive meaning from their work were 2.8 times more likely to stay, 2.2 times more satisfied, and 93% more engaged (The Energy Project & Harvard Business Review, 2014). Organisations that devote resources towards creating meaning at work will experience increased motivation, loyalty, pride and productivity (Penna, 2005).
With these highlights of some recent research activities on meaning at work, any organisation that disregards the importance of helping its employees find meaning in their work does that at the detriment of their own success.
HR leaders are in a uniquely influential position to help employees discover meaning in their work. The work that is undertaken and the environment that workers operate within can be enhanced by creating a corporate culture where meaning at work can thrive. Do employees take pride in their work? Is the work creative and interesting? Are employees praised and recognised for good work? If yes, then the company is building the foundation of meaningful work, but the next set of ideas are equally important in creating the corporate environment required for employees to find meaning in their work life:
- Be Generous with Recognition
Employees want recognition that what they do matter in the context of the greater goals of the organisation. When employees are recognised for good work, they are more prone to move on to do better work. Recognition can be from manager to subordinate, as well as from peer to peer.
- Connecting Jobs to the Corporate Vision
Managers should articulate the vision, mission, strategy, and goals of the organisation, while providing context into how the work that the employee does helps the organisation achieve the big picture. Every employee needs to feel a sense of ‘I matter,’ that showing up every day makes a difference. They should feel proud of the work their organisation does. Connecting how your business succeeds with how it contributes to society is a critical way to help employees find meaning every day.
- Create a Strong Sense of Community
Fostering a well-rounded community of individuals is another way to create a meaningful workplace. This means giving people the opportunity to share who they are with their colleagues, and the chance to create the kind of place where they personally want to work.
Encourage employee connections by starting groups or clubs of employees, and employees’ participation in community service and recreational programmes.
- Encourage Continuous Professional Development
Personal and career development opportunities are another way to help employees find more meaning at work. To remain productive, people need to take on new responsibilities and learn to apply new skills. It is critical for managers to make training and development resources continuously available to employees. Employees should be encouraged to become lifelong learners to develop and grow new skills and competencies: Learning opportunities extend the benefits of the job beyond just a salary.”
Know and Align Your Employees to Corporate Vision
Good managers know their employees: their strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, values, interests and passions; and align them to corporate vision to achieve organisational goals, while fulfilling their career aspirations. It is therefore important to have career management discussions with employees on a regular basis.
There are many benefits organisations can derive from intentionally helping their employees to find meaning in their work. Organisations that succeed in creating the conducive corporate culture for meaningful work are more likely to attract, retain, and motivate employees to become more productive and loyal in building sustainably successful organisations.
By Emmanuel Woyome