Throughout the course of history, the meaning of “work” has changed dramatically. In ancient times, working was about doing the most basic activities as a means to survive. It wasn’t until the 18th century and the introduction of capitalist theories, that the term “work” acquired a more positive connotation and became associated with wealth. By the 19th century, working became an activity that drove the Industrial Revolution in Europe and transformed the way we would trade and conduct business across the world.
Now, in the 21st century, although working is a means of making money, we also demand a pleasant working environment and wellbeing initiatives when searching for a job. Being able to define yourself and flourish in your profession is vital for employees and employers alike. To be able to do this however, we need to be confident in the meaning of our work.
Find meaning in your work
A recent study by Deloitte found that 56% of millennials have ruled out working for a company because their values do not align. Other than employment, candidates now look for more meaning in their jobs and companies that cannot provide a well-rounded employee experience will lose out. In the UK, for instance, it is not uncommon to meet a graduate who has completely changed career path because their previous job was not what they expected.
Fortunately, HR teams have the resources to encourage motivation and employee engagement. The Deloitte survey includes several actions companies should take to ensure employee engagement. These include having the facilities for employees to:
- Learn new things
- Collaborate and share skills
- Receive recognition and
- The ability to resolve conflicts
In this context, training and knowledge-sharing tools are a great way for every employee to take control of their career, gain skills, and find pleasure in their work. Managers can also support the use of these tools by not only providing regular feedback and continuous training but also by checking on their team’s wellbeing and encouraging them to collaborate. It’s important that all employees feel like they’re making a difference for the whole organisation and are not just working for their own department. Similarly, it’s important for employers to bring their employees close to the end users and finished product. If your employees directly see the results of their hard work, motivation and engagement will increase in turn.
Inclusivity is key
To find meaning in your career is to see that your voice is being heard throughout the company, no matter what level you are. Ensure everyone is involved with innovation, promote entrepreneurship and encourage idea sharing – it can be an excellent way to put an end to ""big company disease"" and make your employees feel well looked after.
Resolving the existential crisis of work will not necessarily mean the end of ""useless jobs"" where many employees cannot find meaning. However, it is important for companies to consider their business models and management methods. In the 21st century, the meaning of work involves companies using innovative methods to inspire and engage their employees, ensuring a motivated workforce and greater business impact.
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