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Why Meaningful Work Is as Important as Compensation

Recognize This! – Though research indicates this more for GenY, all of us across generations need to know why what we do every day has greater value and meaning.

Are employee engagement and retention of concern for you and your organization? If so, are you equally concerned about how you’re conveying the importance and meaning of the work for employees (especially Gen Y)?

If not, your engagement and retention scores will lag.

Intuit’s Fast Track blog recently shared why:

“In the book, Happiness at Work: Maximizing Your Psychological Capital for Success, the authors unveiled new research by the iOpener Institute about this important demographic. They found [millenials] are motivated to stay with their employer and are willing to actively recommend their company to friends based more on job fulfillment than pay. The survey of 18,000 Gen Y’s uncovered that a belief in the firm’s economic or social purpose, and pride in the organization and its work, had a strong correlation with staying at a company.  The report also confirmed that there was no connection between retention and compensation.”

That’s not to say that pay is unimportant. But it’s a mistake to focus solely on compensation as the primary motivator of employees to engage with your organization (or, more accurately, with demonstrating the core values and delivering your strategic objectives) and keep them on staff.

Writing for Blogging for Jobs, Josh Tolan confirmed meaningful work as a critical factor for employee engagement, pointing to Bain & Co. research:

“What your company stands for is now just as important as what’s in a paycheck. A recent survey by Bain & Co. showed 30 percent of workers would be willing to take a pay cut to work for a more globally-conscience, sustainable company. Developing a company culture with real world values is a great way to motivate employees to do their very best.”

Understanding the importance of meaningful work is one thing. Knowing how to help employees see and know the value and deeper meaning of their work is another. That’s why this tip from the Intuit blog post referenced above particularly resonated with me:

“Show them the impact they are making – Gen Y feels fulfilled when they know they are making a difference. When you introduce them to a project, explain what impact a positive result will have on the company (and even society). This way, they will feel like their performance is making a difference and they will work harder as a result. After they complete a project, sit down with them and explain how the result helped the company and then give them even bigger projects.”

Even better, create a culture of recognition in which any employee, at any level, can recognize any other through detailed, specific messages for excellent work. Now, everyone is responsible for communicating the importance, meaningfulness and value of the work we do every day.

Do you think your work is meaningful?

 

11 Responses

  1. Alex Forbes says:

    Derek,

    Thank you for The Fast Track referral, Intuit QuickBase’s blog for improving worker productivity, and career and leadership advice. Much appreciated.

    Best,
    Alex

  2. James Thomas says:

    Hi Derek,

    Thanks for publishing this post. I posted a piece on Building Enduring Engagement yesterday:
    http://unit1of1.wordpress.com/2013/01/27/building-enduring-engagement/

    Borrowing from the work of business researchers and consultants, I posed seven questions to leaders who want to achieve broad engagement. One question was built around this concept of meaningful work: “Do the tasks that individuals regularly encounter in your organization ignite interest and provide achievable personal challenges? (If not, you may want to either redesign how and what work is done, or settle with striving for compliance!)…”

    Remuneration/compensation didn’t even make it onto my list of engagement drivers.

    Cheers

    James

  3. [...] Meaningful – Always link the recognition moment to the bigger picture or greater goal. Help people see the broad value of their work. [...]

  4. [...] Meaningful – Always link the recognition moment to the bigger picture or greater goal. Help people see the broad value of their work. [...]

  5. [...] Employees need meaningful work. Busy work kills the spirit. Yes, some work tasks are menial, repetitive and just have to get done. But doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. Good managers help employees see the greater value of even the most menial, repetitive tasks. Help your employees see how their efforts help move the greater mission forward. [...]

  6. [...] Employees need meaningful work.Busy work kills the spirit. Yes, some work tasks are menial, repetitive and just have to get done. But doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. Good managers help employees see the greater value of even the most menial, repetitive tasks. Help your employees see how their efforts help move the greater mission forward. [...]

  7. [...] Employees need meaningful work. Busy work kills the spirit. Yes, some work tasks are menial, repetitive and just have to get done. But doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. Good managers help employees see the greater value of even the most menial, repetitive tasks. Help your employees see how their efforts help move the greater mission forward. [...]

  8. [...] Employees need meaningful work. Busy work kills the spirit. Yes, some work tasks are menial, repetitive and just have to get done. But doesn’t mean they aren’t meaningful. Good managers help employees see the greater value of even the most menial, repetitive tasks. Help your employees see how their efforts help move the greater mission forward. [...]

  9. [...] to engage with. This is another way of conveying the importance of the meaning of the work – helping employees understand the deeper or greater value their daily efforts have within the bigger picture. When people understand the deeper value, they [...]

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