This article was updated on July 10, 2018.
Today's workforce is increasingly looking for meaningful work that makes a larger contribution to the world, in addition to a career offering growth potential, compensation and benefits. Harvard Business Review reports that employees who have a clear purpose are more motivated and productive. Employers should find ways to help their workforce understand their impact and feel connected to the organization's mission.
Here are five strategies that can help boost employee meaning in the workplace.
1. Use Technology to Give Employees Flexibility and Choice
According to the ADP Research Institute® (ADP RI) study, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce, today's workers are looking to work on projects that are personally meaningful, have a positive impact on society, and benefit people's well-being. Advancements in technology have enabled some workers to choose when, where, and how they will work, and these shifts have made it easier for some to choose jobs that meet more than just financial needs.
2. Connect Individual Work to the Organization's Broader Mission
Teams that are hungry to make a contribution need to understand the organization's mission — and how it improves their client's lives and the world at large. When employees understand how your organization's mission makes the world a better place — even for only a specific segment of people — it can be easier for them to stay motivated and feel good about their impact.
3. Recognize Individual Achievements
Recognition is a tool enterprises can use to put more emphasis on helping workers feel appreciated and like they're making a meaningful contribution. Businesses are employing a range of different recognition programs, from bonus programs to recognition-for-service initiatives. At the same time, it's also possible to structure management relationships so that employees are recognized during weekly team meetings. Ask yourself how your firm's culture can focus on generating more recognition for employees.
4. Provide Time for Personally Meaningful Projects
Consider allocating time each week or providing small grants to help employees develop their own projects. You could also consider offering working sabbaticals that let employees focus exclusively on a project for weeks or months after a specific length of service. Not only can this recharge your team's batteries, but it can often lead to innovation for your business and increased loyalty from the employee.
5. Invest in Employee Well-Being
One dimension of creating a purpose-driven workplace is looking for opportunities to invest in your employees' well-being. According to the ADP RI study, 42 percent of employees surveyed in the U.S. believe that employers will use technology to measure and impact their well-being. Businesses in the oil industry are developing electronic devices to monitor employee health and safety. For example, Texas oil and gas services contractor Baker Hughes has developed smart helmet technology to monitor the user's vital signs, according to the ADP RI study. Across your own organization, there are numerous ways to focus on employee meaning and show you care about your employees' health, happiness and safety.
Supporting the need for employee meaning can take many forms. Not only does it help your employees feel like their contributions and careers are more fully realized, but it provides an opportunity to invest in your team. From creating time for professional development and personal projects, to cultivating a culture that emphasizes employee recognition, HR leaders can use these tools to help boost employee morale, increase productivity and encourage a sense of ownership in their organization's success.
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