6 Factors to Make Work Meaningful for Small Businesses

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Whether you’re the employer or an employee, you need to put meaning into work.

In the developed world in the 21st century, work has a strong emotional and social purpose.

We use it to connect to our personal potential and to contribute to our wider society. And, yet how much space is there for this to happen in today’s workplace?

We have job descriptions, competencies and roles all created with good intent, which is to tell us what to do and how to do it. But where is the space to personalize our role and shape how we deliver it?

The danger is that we really are viewing people and individuals as human resources impersonal assets to be aggregated, rather than people to be managed and led.

Employees increasingly need their work to have meaning a vital benefit provided by our notion of reason…whether you’re the employer or an employee, you need to put meaning into work.

What is meant by meaning of work?

Meaning, of course, is a highly personal and subjective notion. It differs among individuals and at different life stages. Writers in this area have identified several factors influencing how individuals derive meaning from work.

These can be summarized as:

  • The significance that work brings to our sense of identity.
  • The orientation we have toward work, especially how we achieve our personal values; these may vary from autonomy to social advancement.
  • The balance we can achieve between work and other important aspects of our lives, such as family and friends.

We might move through each of these areas of importance as our careers progress or simply be motivated by one. The key is understanding how work becomes meaningful to everyone.

The 6 Factors to Make Work Meaningful

In their book The Truth About Talent, writers Jacqueline Davies and Jeremy Kourdi highlight six factors that help work to become more meaningful.

1. Social purpose: Doing something that is useful to others or to society.

2. Moral correctness: Doing a job that is morally justifiable in terms of its processes and its results.

3. Achievement-related pleasure: Enjoying one’s job, doing a job that stimulates the development of one’s potential and that enables achieving one’s goals.

4. Autonomy: Being able to use one’s skills and judgment to solve problems and make decisions regarding one’s job.

5. Recognition: Doing a job that corresponds to one’s skills, whose results are recognized and whose salary is adequate.

6. Positive relationships: Doing a job that enables making interesting contacts and good connections.

It is interesting to reflect how simple and universal these are. There has been much made of the need to be considerate of factors such as these for Generation Y; however, reason in general and these factors in particular are important wherever you are on the demographic time line.

Full Potential

Doing meaningful work is vital in generating individual potential. In this sense, both the reason (the purpose of the work that is being completed) and the rouser (the ability to engage and inspire people to achieve that purpose) are closely connected. In fact, when people do meaningful work, they develop a sense of identity, worth and dignity.

By achieving meaningful results, they grow and move toward their full potential. Somehow, they have an opportunity to become who they are and to contribute to the improvement of their life and community. When one thinks of work, one often thinks of a job. But work is far more than a job.

Although work certainly provides for basic subsistence needs and decent living conditions, this is not its only function. Work is, above all, an activity through which an individual is into the world, creates new relations, uses talent, learns, grows, and develops an identity and a sense of belonging.

So, we must remember to put meaning into work!

Related articles:

Business Owners Must Recognize Employees’ Greatest Challenges

Is Your Business Ready to Refocus Its C-Suite?

Is Your Small Business Resilient Enough?


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