Meaningful Work? It’s Just as Important to Employees as a Paycheck

Jan 29, 2013

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 with Gen Y/Millennials)?

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.”

Just as important as a paycheck

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.”

Let them know how they’re making a difference

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?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

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