Make work mean something

When asked what they want from their jobs, most people will tell you that they would like to make a difference.  Research has shown that most of us spend one third of all the hours we are alive at work so it makes sense that we would like that time to amount to something.  To create meaningful work is to create an environment where employee engagement is maximized.  Here are 10 ways in which managers can make work more meaningful.

1. Get to know your employees as people

Take the time to find out who your employees are outside of work as well.  If you genuinely care about the people who work around you, they will be more committed to achieving the goals of the organisation.

2. Make sure senior management is on board

Ensure that the leadership team appreciates your new approach.  Fortunately, the argument for meaningful work makes good business sense as well.  A focus on creating meaningful work leads to higher levels of employee engagement which, in turn, leads to higher profits (Gallup Research found a 19.2% increase in operating income in organisations where employees are highly engaged).

3. Communicate constantly

Employees want to be in the know, even if the news isn’t always good.  Practice on-going communication so that if bad news needs to be shared, it will be seen within its wider perspective.

4. Increase contact with customers

Give employees opportunities to see how their work impacts on customers.  Allow non-sales employees to attend sales meetings or encourage periodic job swaps.

5. Create opportunities for participative decision-making

Invite as many people as possible to take part in the conversations that surround important decisions.  Besides from benefitting from a diverse pool of opinions, people feel more committed to the decisions reached when they were given a chance to participate in the process.

6. Cut the red tape

Out-dated policies that don’t allow telecommuting or Facebook access at work create barriers to engagement and need to be over-hauled.  If necessary, find out what your employees really want then see if there isn’t a way to make it happen.

7. Don’t forget about the work context

It may sound superficial but a slow computer or an untidy office will put a damper on morale.  An office which is a source of pride for employees will encourage them to take pride in their work as well.

8. Encourage innovation

Ideas as big as a new product or as small as a new way to organise the filing cabinet, should be encouraged.  When employees feel a shared sense of ownership, work has more meaning.

9. Don’t stop developing people

The 21st century organisation is knowledge-driven so the need to learn new things is on-going.  New challenges help to make sure that work is always fresh and interesting.

10. Say thank you

Whether it’s in person or a hand-written thank you card, find opportunities to recognise when people do a good job and reward them for it.

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