By Wilma Bedford
Seeing that the major part of our lives revolve around our jobs and the workplace, it is vital that employees should find satisfaction in their jobs.
The traditional remuneration practices and the occupational ladder are disappearing, and this leaves a vacuum in which the employee is wondering how he can still practice a meaningful occupation rather than leading a boring life that moves from one payslip to the next. Employees need new reasons for believing in their companies, feeling safe and staying motivated.
Employees who believe that their work is meaningful are inclined to work harder and to accept unpopular projects and challenges, and they cooperate better. Employees want to feel that they are part of something more than just the end salary.
There are a few things employers can do to add some meaning and value to employees’ work.
- Lessen anonymity. Employees seldom know where the product they are manufacturing is going to end up. In a recent experiment by Ryan Beull of the Harvard Business School it was found that chefs in cafeterias where there usually is no contact between the chef and the client they worked less effectively than when they could see via video who the clients were and what they ordered.
Tell employees who their clients are and encourage employees to make personal contact with the client even if it is via a follow-up call or visit. Employees must find out which clients benefit most through their work.
- Help employees to ascertain what effect and importance their work has for the community or another industry. For instance, make the computer technician understand that the prompt repair of a computer for a client has a domino effect. The new computer program for a chicken industry, for instance, ensures consistent egg supply to old-age homes.
- Acknowledge good work but describe the improvement or effect it has on the end result. For example, the introduction of an improved ordering and dispatching program improves the turnover of companies. Give credit privately and in a group. For instance, compensate a worker by helping him to work on a new project.
- Couple the work to a bigger objective by asking questions about objectives. Why do you have to order new car parts today? So that Mr X can repair his truck. Why does his vehicle have to be repaired before tomorrow? So that he can get his fresh produce to the market; so that his produce does not go off; so that he can deliver an order of vegetables to a children’s home and supermarket. Such insights into the importance of an employee’s job create a personal involvement and a feeling of worth. My job is meaningful.
- Also create opportunities for employees to learn, to experiment. Employees may appear to be uninterested and uninvolved, but they are not necessarily unmotivated. Man has a natural intellectual need to discover and learn but companies and employers seldom offer such stimulating opportunities.
Cable, Dan. 2018 Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping People Love What They Do.
Harvard Business Review Press
Making Work Meaningful: A Leaders Guide
Cable, D. Vermeulen, F.
Mc Kinsey& Company Organization