“Finding meaning is about being engaged,” writes author Aaron Hurst in the New York Times. “Having a purpose isn’t necessarily about what a company makes or sells, but rather, it’s about how the workers approach their day.”
At Tribe, we work to engage employees in the vision of the company they work for. Although it’s easier to help employees find meaning by working for an organization addressing world hunger or cancer research, almost any company can be driven by a purpose that fills a human need. The purpose of a tire company might be helping people arrive safely; an office supply manufacturer may have a vision of supporting entrepreneurism.
Yet our workforce is increasingly turning to volunteer work to find that sense of meaning. ”In much of the non-profit world, there are more volunteers than there are spots,” Hurst says. “This demand to volunteer masks a broader problem in our society. It points to the lack of purpose that we experience in our jobs.”
Even a paying gig for a non-profit is no guarantee of meaningful work, however. Hurst points out that there are plenty of menial jobs in the non-profit sector. “Their organization may be doing inspiring work in the world, but the day-to-day job doesn’t generate much involvement.”
Perhaps finding meaningful work has more to do with the individual than the organization. That’s why it’s so important to help employees see the role they each play in contributing to the overall company vision. And to have top management recognize and communicate their appreciation for those contributions.
This vein of thought also supports the need for personal and professional growth as important elements of the Employee Value Proposition. A company that invests in their employees’ development is helping them to find more meaning in their work, if only that they see themselves progressing in their own careers.
Another key factor in meaningful work is the human connections employees make within the company. Working with a team of talented people, or even a group of people who laugh a lot at work, can be engaging. Strong relationships with managers, and even seeing the company’s leadership team as human beings and not just titles, help build engagement.
It all circles back to what we at Tribe consider one of the most important measures of engagement: When you wake up in the morning, are you excited about going to work? If your employees can say that, then you’re on the right track.