There are multiple paths to career satisfaction but finding meaning in your work may be the single most contributing factor to long term satisfaction in the workplace. According to the post, Getting Beyond Engagement to Creating Meaning at Work, "Those who succeed at creating meaning — either on their own or with the help of their boss — tend to work harder, more creatively, and with more tenacity, giving the companies that employ them a leg up in the marketplace. What's more, study after study suggests that when employees experience meaning, their employers enjoy higher rates of customer commitment and investor interest."
The question is twofold: As employers, how do you create meaningful work? As an employee, how do you create meaningful work for yourself?
Business sustainability presents the unique opportunity to increase profitability, gain and maintain a competitive advantage over the competition, and create meaningful work in the process. The key is in value alignment. How can organizational values and employee values pair up? Sustainable businesses with existing CSR and sustainability plans may have it a little easier, but those without can still create value. Consider the use of the following strategies to align corporate and employee values to create meaningful work.
- Corporate volunteering
- Green teams- allow participates to meet, collaborate, and discuss on topics unique to their position in the organization. Namely, issues and areas of specific interest in how it relates to their job, their departments, and the overall organization.
- Create individual employee sustainability programs. The basic premise of a personal sustainability program is to reduce the carbon footprint, lighten the load on the planet as well as reap the benefits of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Line this up with the corporate sustainability plan and initiatives.
- Educate: Offer ongoing workshops, training, lunch and learns, and educational activities to educate workers on the environmental issues (energy, water, waste, and others) and the associated actions causing the problems. Identify new behavior and eco actions that individually workers can take to create new patterns of behavior and choices that support environmental solutions and are aligned with the company's overarching sustainability plan.
It's so common to discuss employee engagement from the perspective of the company. Obviously, the benefits of engaged employees to a business are many: increased productivity, better communication, collaborative team work, employee retention, and best of all, the alignment of a corporate sustainability plan with an employee’s day to day duties.
But what about employee engagement from the employee's perspective? Which path do you take to create meaningful work? Essentially, it means bringing your best self to work. Bringing your best self to work means being lit up, excited, passionate about expressing your values in ways that are meaningful and rewarding to you in a professional setting. Avenues for expressing that include:
- Consider your approach to your current position. No one knows your job better than you. You have a better chance of discovering ways to improve processes and integrate sustainability concepts than anyone. Perform your job from the perspective of how can I do my job in a more eco friendly manner.
- Take eco action in your daily activities: recycle, commit to paperless, share with others what you are doing and why you are doing it and get them involved.
- Engage management by incorporating sustainability concepts in your personal development plan.
- ake on new sustainability roles and projects in the organization: start a recycling program, lead a paper free initiative, host a lunch and learn providing local and organic foods
- Become the “go-to” person for all things green
- Expand your corporate green network: engage in internal business activities, networking events, internal and external training, professional organizations, and business communities. An easy option to engage in your company’s community outreach programs.
Creating meaningful work is both the responsibility of the employer as well as the employee. How are you creating meaningful work?