A Search for Meaning

Work takes up a lot of our time — it’s little surprise then that more and more of us are on a quest to find work with a purpose, a job that fulfils us.

For employers, this means that salaries no longer reign supreme. In fact, studies have shown time and again that it’s meaningful work, not salary, which is the core driver of employee engagement, across virtually every major industry and global region.

In his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”, Daniel Pink explains the source of this need to find fulfilment comes from a profound human need to direct our lives, do something valuable in the world, learn, and create new things.

But, what makes a job meaningful?

What counts as meaningful work will vary from person to person, but whether we’re CEOs, team leaders, or admin assistants there’s purpose to be found in every job.

At its core meaningful work is all about how we relate to the work we do. It’s about how worthwhile we think those hours we spend at work are, the sense of accomplishment we get from collaborating with others, and the opportunity we get to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

This sense of meaningfulness radiates into how we feel about our organisation and our teams — it gives us the drive to go that extra mile because the company’s success becomes deeply allied to our own. 

Give me something to believe in

As leaders, we have a pivotal role to play in enabling and bring about the feeling of meaningfulness in our employees and their work. So, what can we do to give our people a sense of fulfilment in what they’re doing?

A good starting point is to make sure we regularly help people to connect the contributions they are making to the collective goals and purposes of the team or business. By regularly reminding our employees that their work is meaningful and necessary to the team and our company we create a sense of relevance and significance.

Let’s face it, most of us lead frantic lives and it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, leading us to question at times ‘what’s this all for?’

By helping our people understand the impact of their job — the difference they make — we can drive engagement and performance, connecting the dots between the why and what they do every day.