Work is no longer about finding a job that pays the bills. Today’s employees want to feel their work has meaning and is purposeful.
While some professions – nursing, teaching, law enforcement, etc. – are more widely viewed as being worthwhile than others, virtually any job can be considered “meaningful work” as long as it provides the person doing it with personal satisfaction, fulfillment, or a sense of purpose.
The definition of meaningful varies widely from person to person based on what their motivations, upbringing, culture, or individual beliefs are. It’s entirely possible that two people performing the same job and in the same environment might have vastly different opinions about whether they would consider their work “meaningful.” It’s also equally possible that two people performing completely different jobs could list the same reasons why they find their job meaningful.
Employees who get a sense of purpose from their work generally tend to be more engaged and productive, while those who don’t find their work meaningful tend to be lower performers and are less likely to feel connected to what they do, the company they work for, or their coworkers. These feelings of purposelessness can also spill over into employees’ personal lives, leading to problems in their relationships and even poorer physical health, which in turn affects their performance at work in a continuing cycle.
In addition to being a drain on productivity, workers who don’t consider their work to be meaningful can also negatively impact the morale of the entire company. Companies that manage to help their employees find meaning in what they do, however, often find that they have a culture that employees actually want to be a part of and value. Employees who view the work they do as meaningful also won’t be as easily swayed to leave, making a meaningful workplace an incredibly valuable tool to help employers recruit and retain top talent.
Avoid productivity drains by promoting emotional wellness at work. Read our blog on Addressing Emotional Wellness in the Workplace.
Because the factors that make work meaningful are so dependent on the individual performing the work, creating a culture and environment that helps employees find purpose and pride in what they do can be a daunting task for employers. There is, however, a process that can help companies help employees find meaning in their work:
Creating a meaningful work culture can sound like such an abstract and overwhelming project, but the good news is that doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once or require you to put all other projects on hold. It’s something you and your employees can work toward together over time, making incremental changes as you go and adapting as necessary to meet the needs of your business and workforce.