It is important for individuals to know that work isn’t just drudgery and only a paycheck. In fact, as author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell has said, “We were created for meaningful work.” James C. Collins, author of “Good to Great” noted, “For in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” Finding the meaningfulness of their work is not just a personal quest. Indeed, while an enterprise cannot guarantee every employee’s satisfaction and success, it is in the best interest of every business leader to help every employee find and develop deep meaning in their work.
Why It’s Important for Employees to Find Meaningfulness of Their Work
It has been observed that on average, employees work more than 90,000 hours. That is more hours than an individual spends with his/her family or friends. It is more time than anyone can play golf or watch NFL football. “Meaningfulness” simply means finding purpose, important quality, or significance in work, and that provides enduring motivation and satisfaction in work.
It is important for employees to find meaningfulness of their work because those who do so are more committed to and engaged in their work. Studies have shown that employees who find meaning and purpose in their work have a stronger sense of well-being. It has been demonstrated that they have a higher chance of being promoted and a higher likelihood of achieving leadership positions. Team alignment and employee cohesion are also positive effects. Employees who find meaningfulness of their work are less likely to leave the organization, thus raising the organization’s retention rate. They tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction and they are generally more productive. They work longer hours and take fewer sick days. So, there are clearly great benefits for both individual employees and their employer.
16 Ways to Help Employees See the Meaningfulness of Their Work
Here are 16 ways for business and organizational leaders to help employees see and achieve greater meaningfulness of their work:
- Create and communicate a clear vision of the organization’s mission.
- Establish core values to provide guiding principles for everyone’s work and to create a “bigger picture” for their work. Core values will help define how each member and each team interacts with each other and with clients/customers.
- Provide clarity of purpose, clarity of plans and programs, and clarity of responsibilities for the organization.
- Define roles for the employees and be sure that management understands the value of each individual’s contributions. Ensure that employees understand the overall ecosystem.
- Set goals and map out career paths together with employees.
- Align work with each employee’s work vision.
- Link individual employees’ tasks to the larger enterprise objectives.
- Provide plenty of employee growth opportunities. Allow individuals to move beyond their established roles.
- Encourage learning and up-skilling.
- Create organizational structures that facilitate and nurture mutual respect up and down the chain of command.
- Create and nurture a sense of healthy community. Provide events and other opportunities for employee socializing.
- Change roles, responsibilities, tasks, and daily or weekly routines from time to time so work does not get mired in boring sameness.
- Show the impact of employee work. Also, provide recognition for employee work.
- Compensate employees wisely and pay them on time.
- Check-in frequently with employees, offering actionable feedback. Also, ask for their feedback and then act on it. Watch for and act on any signs of burnout.
- Connect work with a greater cause and provide opportunities for employees to give back to the community in memorable
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