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Meaning and meaningful work are not common words in the workplace lexicon. Unfortunately management practices have carefully neutered such needs in a diligent pursuit of efficiency, cost-cutting, and scalability of operations.

Don’t get me wrong the above items are essential. They are vital to business success. What needs to be added, however, is a fervent practice of stoking the fires of employee passion to help uncover business needs like efficiencies, new ideas for cost-cutting, and plans to scale operations. 

In today’s workplaces viewing work as an extension of one’s passion is the shift management must grasp, adopt, and adapt to if the business is to thrive in the 21st century.

An important characteristic of this switch is the increased involvement of employees in major organizational decisions. No longer can management believe they hold the answers to the company’s vexing problems and then direct staff to execute on their solutions. The short sightedness of this belief will limit a company’s growth and chase talent out the door.

Today’s workforce is looking for a company that gives autonomy to its employees in the work and how its done, variety in work assignments, challenging work assignments, workload balance that stretches an employees’ skills, regular feedback, and meaningful work⁠. If these are not part of a company’s culture, company’s will struggle to keep talent from leaving.

There is a difference between being in business solely to generate wealth and being in business with a significant purpose that also generates wealth – Dov Siedman

Dov Siedman’s quote gets to the importance of meaningful work: when purpose is clear profits will grow. Purpose is vital input to help employees find meaning at work.

Meaning at work is when employees can see how their work benefits customers, society, and themselves. It is the connection from me (the employee) to the company’s mission that must be purposefully cultivated. This is a shared responsibility between the manager and employee.

For meaning to be possible within a team or even throughout an organization, managers must dare to step out of the fray and purposefully chart a path to unleashing employee passions connected to their strengths and applied to business needs.

Managers must thoughtfully and consistently help employees see how their work connects to the company’s mission and vision. It’s unacceptable today for employees to not understand how they are part of an important effort to deliver value that ultimately is enjoyed by the company’s customer. If this is lost, so too is the purpose behind the work any employee does. The company’s purpose then is watered down to be meaningless and merely noise in a crowded market place. No employee at any level is paid to achieve such banal results.

 Art by  Pascal Campion