Creating Meaning at Work * Show Them the Way

Meaning at work – it’s a phrase bantered around quite a bit in this industry. People want meaning at work. The cynical rejoinder is often, “People are just happy to have a job. That’s meaning enough.”

But this misses the point entirely. People want to know that what they do matters, that it makes a difference in something larger than themselves – whether that be the company’s success, positive impact on the environment, or changing the world for the better.

Dave and Wendy Ulrich recently published an entire book on this topic, which they discussed in a post on Harvard Business Reviews’ blog site:
“Neither position nor salary seems to have much to do with finding meaning in work. … People have to create the meaning of their work and their lives, and that process requires skill and practice, not just luck.”
Why should you care if people find meaning in their work?
“Those who succeed at creating meaning – either on their own or with the help of their boss – tend to work harder, more creatively, and with more tenacity, giving the companies that employ them a leg up in the marketplace. What’s more, study after study suggests that when employees experience meaning, their employers enjoy higher rates of customer commitment and investor interest.”

But how can you help people find meaning in their work?
“Even in unfavorable circumstances, people can experience an activity as meaningful when it resonates with chosen values, connects them with people they like, raises their sense of competence, or gives them an ‘ah-ha’ moment of insight.”

And that’s so easy to do with strategic employee recognition. If you follow best practice to build every recognition around your company values and strategic objectives, then use every opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate employees when they demonstrate those values in contribution to those objectives – you give them meaning. You help them see their unique value in the organization and helping achieve a greater purpose – individually and as a team.

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