Creating Meaning at Work
A positive work climate with a sense of belonging enhances employee motivation, and an important component is a leader who helps people see meaning and purpose amid their daily work tasks. How many people do you know who do the minimum required and survive in the workplace, but don’t thrive and are not high performers. Contrast that with those who are fully engaged and always do more than expected. What is the difference?
Every person is unique, of course, and brings their own history and values to the workplace, but often a big factor is the quality of leadership. Research shows that leadership quality is the number one factor in whether people feel engaged at work, and Gallup reports that only 34% of Americans say they are actually are. That is a pretty clear connection.
Yes, most of us need to make a living and take home a paycheck, but work can (and should) be about a lot more than simply that. Author Jim Kouzes recalls Studs Terkel’s classic book “Working” in which an interviewed fireman says, “I can look back and say, ‘I helped put out a fire. I helped save somebody.’ It shows something I did on this earth.” Kouzes hopes that leaders can also say “I did something on this earth” by bringing meaning and purpose to their workplaces.
For further thought: How many of your staff are getting-by-and-surviving as opposed to engaged-and-thriving? How can you apply your leadership skills to increase employee engagement and foster a climate where work has purpose? List three specific actions you could take that would create a more meaningful workplace, increasing employee satisfaction and productivity. We each have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Don’t underestimate your impact!
For more on this topic, read my New Hampshire Business Review column here: https://www.nhbr.com/creating-meaning-at-work/.