20Help Employees Understand the Meaning of Their Work

Some jobs by their very nature seem more meaningful than others. But really, all jobs are potentially meaningful. All companies serve their customers, their stakeholders, and their workforce, and the employees are in a unique position to make a real difference. It’s up to leaders to help people see this. Great leaders create an environment where employees feel valued (and valuable) and this is what connects them to purpose.

It’s easy to assume that an employee understands the impact of their work. Through the years I have been fortunate enough to have substantial interaction with police, firefighters, TSA staff, emergency responders, teachers, researchers, healthcare providers, security officers, and social workers. When reading those job titles, wouldn’t you think they have to know the great impact they make? They don’t—at least not nearly as much as you think. In fact, research shows that 53 percent of workers wish they had more insight into the effect their contributions have on their company’s success.1

The reality is, every job plays an important role or it would not exist. There is no such thing as a job that does not count. And yet, we tend to work in environments where an employee is more likely to hear about their work when there is a problem. It is assumed that the impact of work is obvious, and because of that, leaders are not taking time to emphasize to each worker the why of their job and the important contribution ...

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