HR Management & Compliance, Talent

How to Make Work More Meaningful

Given that unemployment levels are quite low, retention is a major focus in today’s HR world. One aspect of employees’ satisfaction and retention is how meaningful they find their work.


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People want to feel like they’re making a positive difference in the world. Yet a lot of jobs don’t enable employees to feel like they’re having a positive impact. Thankfully, there are steps employers can take to influence this.

How Employers Can Influence the Way Employees View Their Work

Here are a few ways employers can make a difference in how employees view their work:

  • Ensure employees understand how their role fits into the organization’s vision and mission.
  • Give employees the flexibility to choose some aspects of their workday or workload. This can allow people to incorporate things that are important to them and allows them to keep their work interesting.
  • Show employees they’re trusted. A couple ways you can do this include allowing flexibility on how work is completed and giving assignments without too much detail on how the goal must be accomplished. Trust that employees have the knowledge and capability to make the goals happen. Get their input, and show it’s respected.
  • Remember to explain to employees how their work positively impacts the organization’s customers. Do this even if it seems like it should be obvious.
  • Ensure that organizational leaders are having a positive impact on employee morale. Pay attention to employee feedback, and take action when leaders are not improving employees’ work environment.
  • Encourage employees to be inquisitive and try new things. Allowing experimentation without penalties (within reason) can enable the team to take new directions that give the job more meaning, as well as help with innovation.
  • Challenge employees. Sometimes, the simple act of giving employees challenging work can increase their sense of accomplishment upon achieving their goals—thus adding meaning to the work itself.
  • Get input from employees, and act on it. Simply getting employees’ input can help them feel valued, which can positively impact how meaningful they find their role.
  • Implement more employee recognition programs. Recognizing employee efforts can go a long way toward making them feel they’re valued and their work matters.
  • Help employees spend more time on the things that matter to them—even if those things are not work-related. For example, some employers offer a benefit that gives extra paid time off for employees to volunteer. This is just one way employers can be a part of employees’ lives in a way that helps them feel they’re making a valuable contribution.

People who feel their work has a positive impact are more likely to be not only satisfied with their work but also healthier and more resilient. Employers have a vested interest in helping employees find meaning inside and outside the workplace.

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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