5 Ways managers can help employees find a sense of purpose in the workplace
By: Nick Shekeryk
A purposeful life is one full of intention, directionality and meaning. A sense of purpose drives our actions and impacts how we feel — especially in the workplace. The more employees feel like their work has meaning, the more it positively impacts their attitudes and work performance.
The definition of purpose is “a sense of intentionality and direction in life.” It is a fundamental cognitive need because purpose gives people a sense of wholeness and a greater perspective in the workplace and beyond.
Employees are more engaged when they find their work to be purposeful.
People increasingly seek purpose through work.
Leadership initiatives are most effective when supervisors can increase employees’ feelings of purpose at their jobs.
Employees perform better when their work ties to a company-wide purpose.
The importance of having a sense of purpose in the workplace
Overall, sense of purpose provides a source of energy and direction that helps people recognize the importance of having intentionality in their lives. Having a sense of purpose is also linked to better health and less instances of anxiety and sadness. When the Limeade Institute looked into employee mindsets, they found that 97% of employees who experience workplace intangibles (like purpose, openness and resilience) are engaged at work — compared to just 55% who don’t. In other words, employees become engaged when they find their work to be meaningful.
With work and life becoming more intertwined than ever, people increasingly seek purpose through work. People also perform better when their work ties to a company-wide purpose. This gives managers and leaders an opportunity to facilitate work environments that provide the sense of purpose people need to thrive. Furthermore, leadership initiatives become most effective when supervisors can increase employees’ feelings of purpose at their job.
How to build a sense of purpose in the workplace
1. Regularly discuss performance objectives and goals
Career goals are often only covered during performance reviews. But job descriptions and personal lives are in constant motion and things change. A great way for managers to keep their team members engaged is to have regular 1:1 meetings. Meeting on a regular basis allows managers to keep a pulse on how their employees are doing. It provides a space for employees to discuss how they feel about their job, the work they’re doing and any other interests that are top of mind at work and in life. These conversations allow managers to proactively mitigate problems and quickly identify growth opportunities to give their team members the sense of purpose they desire in the workplace.
2. Measure personal growth
Most of us know about the importance of setting specific, measurable career goals, monitoring progress and offering training and educational opportunities. But here’s a novel concept: investing in your employees’ personal lives. Understanding the bigger picture of what people want from life — and how to factor that into their career development — shows a commitment to employee care. This may help you better support your employees’ personal and professional goals.
3. Encourage employee development
Some employees are interested in leadership positions. Others want to explore various functions or have expertise that can be useful in a different capacity. Encouraging employees to connect with others around the company and explore internal resources and trainings may help your team members learn new skills while also filling a need for the company.
4. Support internal career development
Make it easy for employees to learn about — and apply for — other opportunities in the company. If people feel their career development is a priority and that internal job searches aren’t a secretive operation, they can look for their next career opportunity internally rather than externally. When you invest in your employees’ growth and development it can help keep employees engaged.
5. Provide support and employee care benefits
Employees who can care for themselves outside of work are more likely to perform better at work. Adequate benefit coverage for mental health services — from individual and couples counseling to group therapy — gives employees the ability to prioritize their well-being. Employee Assistance Programs are great for providing access to qualified mental health therapists and a variety of services to help employees manage their lives — like childcare, housecleaning and even running errands.
Want to learn more about employee experience activators? Check out the other elements for a positive employee experience.