I want to create an engaged workforce that finds meaning in the work they are doing. What is the single most meaningful initiative that can be taken in order to improve employee engagement?
Dear Seeking Meaning,
The concept of creating a meaningful workplace employees find engaging and fulfilling is not new. However, implementing practices that bring them that meaning is often a task overlooked over by company leaders. You should be commended for understanding that it is absolutely needed in order to have success as a business.
However, a meaningful culture is not something built on a single initiative. A meaningful culture is many different working parts coming together to create value, commitment, and tradition among employees. You need a solid strategy when it comes to implementing culture-building initiatives. Here are some steps to building that strategy:
1. Survey: Understand What Employees Want
Use employee engagement surveys to get a pulse for how your workforce is feeling. Ask questions about the company’s structure, its business operations, and its recognition practices. Allow space for employees to write in their open feedback about things they would like to see changed or implemented in the workplace. Take these comments seriously and consider making changes based on what your employees are asking for in the workplace.
2. Act: Emphasize Prosocial Values
Prosocial values are a critical component to creating a meaningful work environment. When employees perceive that their organization holds such values as humanity, benevolence, and vision, they are more likely to build a stronger emotional commitment to the organization which reduces turnover, improves engagement, and positively impacts performance. Find ways to practice these values in the work that you do, or create committees and involvement groups that employees can join to be part of events and activities that act on the values they find most important.
3. Reinforce: Give Recognition for Meaningful Behavior
Does your organization’s rewards system align with the behaviors that a sense of meaningfulness enables? The quickest way to topple a culture of meaningfulness is to reward meaningless behaviors, namely, self-serving behaviors. Start rewarding your employees for acting in ways the support the company’s values. Reward them for things like teamwork, providing constructive criticism, or lending a helping hand. Promote your company’s prosocial values by recognizing employees who participate in events and activities that support those values.
When employees are rewarded for acting on company values, they will do them more. When they do them more, a more caring and supportive environment is created; the type of environment that makes work matter.
Best of luck in building a workplace culture you and your employees find engaging and meaningful.