providing a sense of purpose and meaning

Research has shown that while money can be a motivational factor for productive employees, being appreciated and valued at work can also have a huge impact on whether an employee stays or leaves a company. A company culture that promotes and encourages personal development and growth, along with self-aware, emotionally intelligent leadership teams, gives employees more than just a salary – it gives them a sense of meaning and purpose.

Creating a true sense of purpose is the responsibility of both the employer and employee. The company should help employees connect their role to the larger picture in terms of overall company objectives, and also how their role impacts others. Employees must also be prepared to look for ways to improve, grow and contribute meaningfully to the organisation.

Having a sense of meaning at work can be even more important than financial compensation. If employees do not feel valued, they will look to another company that will recognise their achievements. However, finding out what gives employees meaning within the workplace can be tricky, as not everyone is motivated by the same thing. For example, older workers value being recognised and appreciated, younger workers look for work that contributes towards society, and workers of all generations want to improve their skills and have a better work-life balance.

Here are four ways to help employees find meaning in their work:

  1. frequent validation - if you are recognised for doing a good job on a certain project, you are more likely to continue producing high quality work. Recognition doesn’t need to be formal, it can be from manager to team member as well as peer to peer. Creating a culture that values individual and group contributions leads to a more productive workforce 
  2. connecting to the larger picture - everyone within a company should know the vision, strategy and goals of the organisation, and how their role within the company contributes towards that. From the data entry person to the CEO, every employee should know how they fit into the larger picture and that what they do really matters
  3. create a sense of community and team spirit - employee connections can be encouraged through groups, clubs, and community service programs that are supported by the company. Having an open communication policy where managers are seen more as coaches and mentors can also foster a culture of camaraderie and team spirit
  4. encourage continuous learning and professional development - everyone should be encouraged to be a lifelong learner to open up new opportunities, take on new responsibilities, and apply new skills. Not all learning has to be purely academic – presentation, communication and leadership skills can be honed with peer-to-peer classes on a range of topics based on their interests.

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