Does it sometimes feel as though you spend a lot of time at work? Well, you’d be right - around a third of our lives are spent working, according to research, which amounts to around 1,800 hours a year, or 90,000 hours over the course of a lifetime.
It is no secret that working demands a large portion of our lives, but our reasons for getting up every morning are shifting. Where many employees once saw the typical 9 to 5 as a means of earning a salary, more people than ever want to gain purpose and meaning from their job.
Employees these days crave open collaboration and in-depth projects, both creative and commercial, that reward them with a feeling of purpose.
Creating a ‘purposeful’ workplace is the key to building a successful business in the world today.
What is a purposeful workplace?
Employers these days should protect the emotional well-being of their employees if they want to stay ahead of the curve. A happy, fulfilled worker is a productive and profitable one and a purposeful workplace cultivates engagement, meaning and motivation.
From investing in personal development training, to encouraging inter-personal relationships, the traditional hierarchy of the workplace in recent years has gained another layer - to personally care for those you manage.
Why is a purposeful workplace important?
A purposeful workplace promotes an internal drive to learn, improve and succeed.
Employers need to provide a foundation for their employees to grow and to feel motivated, by encouraging autonomy over their responsibilities. They should be empowered to have control over their job role and their tasks, schedule and responsibilities. Without that, there is a risk that they may lose purpose.
Today, many modern offices or even the best coworking spaces are being designed to cater to both psychological and physical needs. Businesses are choosing to work in spaces that offer wider flexibility, psychological support and a bigger investment in developing their workforce’s skill set.
Employees who feel supported and motivated are more likely to commit long term to their role and less likely to feel burnt out.
That also helps to reduce the amount of turnover a business experiences. Encouraging longevity does not just ensure strong connections and a dedicated workforce but it is also an investment - training a new employee can take some time.
How do I nurture a purposeful workplace?
Nurturing a purposeful workplace can be done by making small, meaningful changes. You can instil a sense of purpose in your employees by simply altering your management style.
Rather than relying on the simple equation that "meeting your job expectations = wage packet", encourage a collaborative effort for your businesses’ future.
Consider these pointers to ensure your workforce is motivated:
- Complete assessments and implement the findings
Ask your employees what drives, inspires and motivates them. Explore with your team which area of their job does not give them purpose, or if there are any factors which prevent them from being productive.
Listen and don't judge - if an employee feels like their answer will land them in trouble, they will be more likely to hide the truth.
Once you learn about their day-to-day activities, find areas that you could improve on to encourage a heightened sense of purpose. For example, if your employee highlights that they don't feel valued in meetings, then try altering how you respond to their contributions, no matter whether the suggestion is right or wrong.
- Get to know your employees
Your employees are people with lives and issues outside of the office that can affect their workplace motivation.
Don't just ask your team how their projects are going, but also ask them if they have any issues they may want to discuss. Building strong interpersonal relations can create a heightened sense of unity.
- Deliver validation and gratification
Though it is important to highlight areas for improvement in a constructive way, expressing gratification and validation for your employees' hard work will be gladly received.
Try to avoid solely focusing on the quality of the work, and instead find a balance with validating the effort made. In doing so, they will value their hard work and purpose in the company.
- Always discuss "Why"
Never set a task without explaining why it is important. It is challenging to fully commit yourself to a task without understanding the influence it has on the bigger picture, and nobody knows this more than low-level employees.
Rather than imposing meaningless tasks, explain to your team why it is important that they complete the project efficiently. Not just because you said so, but because it is important to the business's future. If your employees understand why their role is important, then they will find purpose in their work.
- Encourage personal, not just professional, development
The benefits of a purposeful workplace are endless, ranging from monetary savings to increased productivity. Employees can be trained to do a professional job but it is the ‘soft’ skills, like teamwork, leadership and resilience, that will set your company apart from the rest.
Creating a purposeful workplace is all about making your employees feel valued, respected and needed. It involves nurturing an appreciation of them as individual people, each with unique issues and needs.
That will help them to experience a heightened sense of purpose towards their job role and lead to a collaborative, more meaningful future.
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