Why Your Employees Must Find Meaning in Their Work

BY Kathy Crosett
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Depending on which source you believe, nearly half of U.S. workers are ready to leave their jobs. Yes, we’ve all been through an extraordinary 18 months of work-​related and social change. With new strains of the COVID-​19 virus potentially surfacing at any time, we feel much less certain about our future. The pandemic definitely caused some employees to reevaluate their priorities and leave the workforce. Other employees try to find meaning in their work. They also look forward to engaging with co-​workers and being part of the company mission. If your employees aren’t finding these aspects of professional life at your company, you’re in trouble.

How Employees Find Meaning in Their Work

In referring the the vast numbers of employees who are quitting their current jobs, Gallup analysts Vipula Gandhi and Jennifer Robison say, “‘the great resignation’ is really the ‘great discontent.’” This analysis makes sense when you think about it. Your team members have had very little control over parts of their lives recently. Many people were commanded to self-​isolate. They may have been unable to visit loved ones who caught the virus. Much-​loved pastimes like going out to eat and enjoying a live sports or music event still contain an element of risk despite being masked and vaccinated.

The one factor workers can control these days is their satisfaction from work. If they’re not feeling the love from you in some very specific ways, they’re looking around. According to Gallup data, compared to September 2019, when 69% of actively disengaged employees were seeking new employment, the March 2021 data shows the disengaged number climbed to 74%. To stem the flow of employee exits, some companies have rushed to retain them by boosting their salary. That strategy might work temporarily.

A more effective strategy is to ensure your employees are engaged. Sales staff, in particular, may remain engaged by the opportunity to earn more money. But not every sales professional responds to financial motivators. Some of your sales reps will shine when you put them in a role where they can help existing clients solve their business problems using your solution. How will you know which rep is best suited for this type of role? The results of psychometric assessments will help you understand the way each employee in your group prefers to work.

Increasing Their Responsibility

Financial rewards won't be enough to keep every employee happy for the long term. Younger employees, in particular, expect to move into roles with more responsibility. Eventually, they may want to manage others. Are your sales managers trained to provide tasks that give increased responsibility to their team members? If not, consider expanding that aspect of your sales manager training program. Your managers need to know how to spot opportunities that will allow their team members to grow professionally 

Connecting Tasks to the Company Mission

The bottom line for many sales professionals is that they are measured by the revenue they bring in. And while all employees appreciate knowing how their company is doing financially, those details don’t contribute to their sense of self-​worth. Your team members want to brag to friends about the groundbreaking work their organization is doing to cure childhood cancer or otherwise improve the planet. They want to feel good about how they spend their time every day.

Giving your mission statement about what you’re trying to improve high visibility is a start. Yes, it should be on your website and every job description should explain how the activities tie to the mission. In addition, when your team members suggest new ideas about additional activities they want to take on to improve the company, listen. And respond with how you plan to implement a version of the idea into someone’s job. Taking those actions shows you are listening and allows team members to find meaning in their work.

To learn more about which reps in your organization are coachable, which is another way to show you value them, check out our white paper, Are They Coachable?.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels