Businesspeople Giving Each Other High Five In Office LobbyDo you experience workplace fulfillment in your job? Apparently, not many of us do. For a recent study, the Energy Project interviewed over 12,000 employees and found that 50% report a lack of meaning and significance at work.

According to a June 2014 Fast Company article, increasing a sense of meaningfulness at work is one of the most potent ways to increase engagement and productivity.

What do we mean by workplace meaning and significance?

  • When workplace efforts serve others, tangibly and effectively, beyond “making money,” workplace meaning and significance grows.
  • When team members understand how their efforts improve the quality of life for customers and community, workplace meaning and significance grows.
  • When there is a strong link between what team members do and serving a greater good, workplace meaning and significance grows.

Here’s a great example. In Ft. Collins, Colorado, yesterday, a teenager who fell 80 feet from Horsetooth Rock in August was able to meet and thank the 47 rescuers who took part in getting her off the mountain and to the hospital for treatment.

It was an emotional reunion for Hannah Schall and the rescue personnel. One search and rescue team member said “It’s rare that we get to meet someone we rescued, to see that they’re doing fine. It’s really good.”

Some of you are thinking, “It’s easy to see how rescue workers serve the greater good! What about me?”

For many of us, our day to day work activities aren’t about saving lives or teaching kids. Our work activities are about finishing reports, waiting tables, driving busses, fixing computers, holding meetings, and the like.

We each, individually, can choose to engage in meaningful activities outside the workplace. We can volunteer, we can deliver meals, we can collect goods for the homeless, or we can take our dog to a nursing home to raise spirits.

That’s definitely a way to serve the greater good, individually. What about our teams at work, though? Does it require changing the company’s business model to boost workplace significance?

It doesn’t – but it may take some creative thinking and rallying of energy towards suitable activities.

There are many events and organizations that need volunteers to provide needed services for kids, families, seniors, etc. in your communities. For example, at VolunteerMatch.org, over 99,000 organizations have placed over 8 million volunteers – and have over 90,000 opportunities available.

You could organize a “fun run/fun walk” team to raise funds for local charities. You could organize a team to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for needy families in your community.

You can even engage people in serving the greater good right at work. The Ken Blanchard Companies created a program that, when profits exceed a certain percentage, each employee is able to provide a gift to a charitable organization of their choice at year end. The grant amount per employee averages about $1,000. Multiply that times over two hundred full-time employees and that’s a lot of money going to charities.

Throughout the year, employees keep a close eye on expenses and they are proactive in finding ways of saving money. Those efforts help boost the funds available to the charity grants.

Give people in your organization a firm foundation of meaning and significance – a common ground of service to others.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © Monkey Business – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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  1. Having significance definitely plays a huge role. If people can’t find that they’ll totally disengage or leave. Our workplace encourages serving the community by supporting a wide variety of groups and organizations. They make it easy for us to serve – which is great.

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