The Search for Meaning at Work

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Engagement. Engagement. Engagement. 

We all know that engaged employees perform better, stay longer, and are much, much happier. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their employer, 38% more likely to have above-average productivity, and create teams that show 21% greater profitability. 

However, 85% of employees are not engaged at work.

So, how do you create engagement? 

Much like how bees are drawn to honey, people are drawn to purpose-driven meaningful work. But let’s be realistic, we don’t all work in labs seeking a cure for cancer or non-profits feeding the homeless. It can be very difficult to feel a sense of meaning from your work. 

This can be traced back to a lack of purpose. While people tend to use the words purpose and meaning interchangeably, purpose is actually what drives meaning. With a lack of purpose, it’s hard to feel meaning.

Steve Van Valin, Founder/CEO of Culturology and author of The Search for Meaning at Work, describes purpose as being “the glue that holds progress and meaning together”. 

In his newly released book he states, “understanding that purpose drives meaning is essential for leaders seeking to inspire their workers to be more engaged. If, in our role as leaders, we articulate purpose in smart ways to make it more conscious for other people-by defining purpose in terms of making a contribution of value to someone or something that is important to them-then it will increase the chances of them gaining an emotional turn though meaning”.

Therefore, it's not about what work you do, it’s about why you do it. You don’t need to be curing cancer to feel meaningful, you just need to understand your purpose for working.

Valin calls this process amplifying meaning and identifies that there are 11 amplifiers of meaning that give people purpose:

1. Self-satisfaction: Making progress toward feeling positively challenged and respected in the daily grind of the work.

2. Family: Making progress toward benefiting your family as a result of the work.

3. Work partner: Making progress in strengthening the closest working relationship(s) at work by being supportive and investing in each other’s success.

4. Team: Making progress toward a sense of belonging as an integral team contributor and valued member.

5. Manager: Making progress by satisfying the boss in ways that earn back respect and advocacy.

6. Department: Making progress by being unified in achieving the departmental objectives that support the goals and strategies of the organization.

7. Company: Making progress by aligning your role and work priorities to impact the overall success of the organization.

8. Customer: Making progress by being a difference maker in the customer experience.

9. Community: Making progress toward growing the health and strength of the local community.

10. World society: Making progress toward benefiting others by improving the condition of humanity and the world.

11. Spirituality: Making progress toward living out the highest-level ideals and beliefs that govern your life.

Let’s give a real-world example.

Valin highlights a scenario in which he met the CEO of a printing company. She explained that her employees work all day on collating machines making advertising supplements for a newspaper- sounds exciting doesn’t it…

“How is it possible to give this type of work meaning?” 

Let’s just face it, no matter how fascinating she makes creating advertisement supplements sound, that’s not why her workers are there. She found that her workers are there to provide for their families and have been loyal to her company for 20 years in order to give their children a better life. It’s not printing that gives them meaning, it’s their families. 

By tapping into this purpose amplifier, the CEO is able to help her employees feel meaningful. She can strike up conversations with her employees about their families and take a new, empathetic approach towards amplifying meaning through a family-driven purpose.

What amplifiers are driving your team members? 

Maybe there’s someone on your team who feels a sense of purpose through self-satisfaction (hitting those performance-based goals and obtaining raises can feel so good!) or perhaps another co-worker finds purpose through their work partner (they’ve been working alongside their work-bestie for 15 years and are not about to stop now!)
If you want to tap into your team’s amplifiers and understand them better, be sure to check out the advantages of having your team members create personal user manuals!

To read more about unleashing the hidden power of purpose to engage and fulfill your team members, check out Stephen Van Valin’s The Search for Meaning At Work

You may even notice that LLUNA makes a special appearance in this book! And we’re not the only one’s raving about it- Ken Blanchard, Adam Grant, Aaron Hurst, Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Henry DeVries, Chic Thompson, Bob Kelleher, among many others are all reaping the benefits of Valin’s insightful work.

Check it out and let us know what amplifiers drive you and your work!

Cover photo: source