“Make a difference”: this phrase gets used so often it can start to sound a little empty. But have you stopped to think recently about whether your employees feel like they make a difference in their job? We can’t all be lifesavers or world leaders, but we all need to feel like we have Meaningful Work. From the CEO to the new trainee, having a sense of being valuable motivates us to give our best effort, so how can we make sure our teams find their work meaningful?
Emphasise how you’re all connected
This might sound a little new age, but to appreciate the value of your own role, you need to see it in the context of the whole organisation – and even in wider society. Unfortunately, unless you’re in a senior position and get the recognition, it can be hard to see how your efforts pay off. Make it clear to everyone in your company that you appreciate them. After all, the best performing sales staff couldn’t do their job without the Operations team that keeps everything running smoothly, and the CEO wouldn’t be quite as effective without the support of their assistant. Show that you understand this network effect and help everyone else in the company to understand it too. Give a voice to each department in your catch ups, newsletters and emails, and ask each team to talk through their successes and their failures at regular company-wide meetings.
Create shared business goals
Following on from the last point, employees need to know they’re making a positive contribution to their teams, the organisation and your stakeholders. When you or your managers sit down to help staff write their targets, make sure they all lead back to the company’s main mission and cascade successes to the whole team. We all invest more effort into a task if we can visualise the knock-on effect it will have on our peers. Don’t forget to celebrate each department’s contribution when you reach those targets too.
Let your people shine
If you’re able to do what you do best and are empowered to use your skills, you’re more likely to find your job meaningful. Think about your current appraisal process. Do employees have the opportunity to decide how their goals are reached? This is a great opportunity to combine staff talents with company targets. For example, if a social media-savvy HR assistant has been tasked with increasing recruitment, let them plan an innovative online campaign. They’ll need guidelines, but within these let them be themselves.
Not seeing the significance of your work can be an unfortunate byproduct of working in a busy organisation. Make sure your colleagues are clued in to just how meaningful their contributions are, and see their engagement soar.
Also in this series: