How to Create a Sense of Purpose at Work

4 minute read

Having a sense of purpose at work can help employees feel more engaged—like they’re part of something bigger. I’ve found that Millennial employees in particular are looking for this level of fulfillment from their jobs. Employers that can articulate and provide a strong sense of purpose may more effectively recruit and engage millennials. This week, I’ve found helpful articles that look at the importance of creating a sense of purpose in the workplace, and how employers can foster fulfillment in their employees.

1. A View From Davos: Putting Purpose to Work via Huffington Post

“Leaders can co-create purpose with employees. First, by offering personal experiences that allow employees to witness first-hand the effects of their products on other people. SAS sends programmers out for two weeks each year to ‘live’ with clients and help clients do their jobs. Roche brings patients in to talk about how drugs allowed them to see their children grow up. Second, leaders can give employees ‘bootleg time’ where some of their work hours are devoted to projects they personally find compelling (like Atlassian software’s FedEx days or 3M’s bootleg time). Third, leaders can talk with employees about ‘the why of their work’ and then help employees spend more time on products and with customers they naturally care about (an Arla Foods employee might spend a year developing a market in Africa to improve nutrition using powdered milk). Finally, leaders can find ways to use existing products to highlight and help solve some world problem (like Unilever investing in sanitation).”

2. Millennials Want To Work At Organizations That Focus On Purpose, Not Just Profit via FastCompany

“The survey polled over 7,800 Millennials with college degrees who also work full-time (defined as having been born after 1982). As in past years, Deloitte found that most respondents said that when they first launched their careers, they looked for companies with a strong sense of purpose beyond a simple profit motive. ‘They believe the business ethos has too short-term a focus. Beyond that, millennials believe companies should spend less time on short-time roles and more time on broadly building contributions to society, more time focusing on their people,’ says Deloitte Global Chairman Steve Almond.”

3. The Growing Business Case For Compassionate Leaders: Jason Garner, Spiritual Entrepreneur via Forbes

“For all executives and for Millennials in particular, the concept of making a meaningful difference, as well as accomplishing work, is one that resonates strongly. ‘When you think about it, business really is a natural place to look for leadership in areas that are affecting our communities,’ Jason Garner says. ‘Executives already know how to identify needs, find solutions, and implement solutions. For them it’s just a matter of expanding their field of vision to include the health of people and the environment to their concern for the health of the business.’”

4. Why Working In a Cubicle Is So Demoralizing and Workers Are Demanding More via Main Street

“Many employees are not engaged at work, because they feel a lack of a connection while their bosses continue to ask them to spend more time and energy at the office, said Gretchen Spreitzer, a professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Employees who are thriving believe their work has a purpose. They not only care about it, but the work has meaning in some way, she said.”

5. The 4 Keys to Managing a Happy, Productive Team via The Week

“Nothing is more motivating than progress in meaningful work and nothing more taxing than setbacks. (Via The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work): ‘This pattern is what we call the progress principle: of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work; of all the negative events, the single most powerful is the opposite of progress—setbacks in the work…Even when progress happens in small steps, a person’s sense of steady forward movement toward an important goal can make all the difference between a great day and a terrible one.’”

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