An interesting study out of the UK (via Jon at the nub) shows that 70% of the people surveyed are looking for more meaning in their work. I would be surprised if the numbers on this side of the puddle were much different.
Developed through qualitative focus groups and quantitative surveys, the research finds that 70 per cent of employees are looking for more 'meaning' in their work.
"The search for meaning appears to be part of a fundamental human need to feel important and to make a difference," said the report author, Linda Holbeche. "It is evident in profound questions that people are increasingly asking, such as who am I?, what do I offer?, why am I doing what I'm doing? and what's the point of it?"
Holbeche maintains that focusing on providing more meaning can have bottom line benefits:
"It can certainly have a bottom-line business impact as organisations can improve staff retention rates, enhance their ability to manage change and foster a more customer-focused culture."
The question - as always - is how to do it?
"One way of giving employees a greater sense of meaning at work is to encourage them to feel part of the whole," said Linda Holbeche. "Teams should be brought together socially from time-to-time and opportunities should be created to enable employees to take part in cross-functional networks, to help them share their experiences."
The report identifies the drivers of employee engagement and commitment and highlights current organisational practices relating to meaning, including corporate social responsibility, work-life balance initiatives and the alignment of organisational values and practice. It also provides recommendations of how organisations - notably leaders, line managers and HR practitioners - can meet the demand for greater meaning and build more productive employment relationships with employees.
Finally, it points out that one of the big stumbling blocks is that it takes a paradigm shift for senior management.
"Much of the problem is trying to get over the jargon," said Linda Holbeche. "Senior managers can be suspicious or even contemptuous if you try to talk to them about the 'spiritual' needs of employees. But part of managing people is about managing their feelings."