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Experiencing Meaning at Work

by Beth on January 12th, 2011

“The job of leadership today is not just to make money, it’s to make meaning.” – John Seely Brown

People seek meaning in their lives; they want to feel like they are making a difference, achieving significance, not just success.  Ideally, work should give people a sense of purpose.  So why is it that the majority of Americans question whether their work is worthwhile?

In his book, Meaningful Workplaces, Neal Chalofsky points out that in the past, when people lived in villages, it was easy for them to see the connection between the work they did and the value they provided to others.  Because they knew the people to whom they sold vegetables or for whom they made shoes, they saw directly how those people benefited from their work.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.  The Industrial Revolution moved workers from their communities into factories and offices.  Mass production and corporate structures have separated workers further and further from the beneficiaries of their work.  The human connection with the people they impact has been lost.

It is now up to leaders to help their employees see the link between the work they do and the impact their work has.  Leaders need to constantly communicate the company’s mission so that employees know how their organization is making a difference.  They also need to make sure that employees see a clear connection between the daily tasks they perform and the company’s ability to achieve its goals.

Having a sense of meaning or purpose is one of the keys to happiness.  Positive workplace cultures are created when people feel that the work they do in some way makes a valuable contribution.  What are you doing to ensure that people experience meaning at work?

From → Meaning, Work

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