Does your team feel worthless with the work they are doing in your organization?
I ask because the 2017 Gallup survey on disengaged workers reports that only 4 of 10 responding said their work was meaningful. No wonder only 33% are fully engaged.
In this article, we delve into the difficult topic of meaningful work and engaged workers.
Those that follow me know that my purpose is to help you think bigger and reach higher to seize the best opportunities being created by a rapidly and radically changing world. To establish cutting-edge cultures we need to shift the paradigms of our thinking.
The Quest for Meaningful Work
I’m reminded of my father’s comments when he was in his 80s. A life-long farmer who had retired and moved to town. One day he quietly said, “I just feel so worthless.”
He knew his purpose on the farm but not in town. Oh, he still had plenty of friends and stayed active with a large garden and attending community events. He still happily married to his wife of over 50 years. All eight of their children all went on to be successful adults who provided value to their work, family, and communities.
So on the surface, he should have been happy and content? Right?
Dad was struggling to find purpose apart from work. Like many, he had retired after a long, hard, yet profitable life. He deserved retirement. But he struggled to find that purpose in retirement.
That feeling is pervasive in our working world today. Again, 4 of 10 workers Gallup surveyed did not believe they worked for a company that had a meaningful purpose.
- Is your company in business to do something meaningful?
- Do you believe your job matter to the organization?
- Do those that look to you for leadership believe you providing value to the team?
A Common Feeling of Worthlessness
I remember working warehousing and factory jobs thinking the same thing. “This job seems so meaningless. Am I wasting my life?”
When we don’t see the value of the organization or fail to find value in our role, we tend to feel we are wasting our time. We might even feel worthless. The remedy is often found when someone cares.
We often feel worthless because we haven’t found the value. Once we do, that changes everything.
Helping Your Team Find Meaning
Dad found meaning by getting involved. About that time he started making bentwood furniture and home decorations. Soon he found family, friends and neighbors who loved his work. In those compliments, he found the value he was looking for.
You can help your team re-engage at work. Here are four strategies that other leaders and managers have found to work well.
- Care. Compassion is the best business strategy and practice because it helps your team know you are there for them. Caring tells them that when they struggle, you notice and understand. Not caring confirms that their work doesn’t matter and they can be easily replaced. Take the bold move, Care for your team.
- Add Value. While my father wasn’t an employee, he rediscovered his value by adding value to other people’s lives. In other words, he GAVE rather than looking to TAKE. As a leader, they will care once they see you adding value to their lives. Take the bold move, Add Value.
- Listen. Good marketing and employee retention often come down to a very important part of the communication process – Listening. Dad was surprised to hear how much his customers liked his work. Always a humble man, he did what he could knowing perfection was just beyond his fingertips. However, once he listened, he recognized customers didn’t want perfection but simply what he could do. Your leadership is the same way. They value a caring heart and humble attitude. Take the bold move, Listen to Your Team.
- Keep Delivering. One of the lasting memories I have of my father is that he didn’t quit. Despite challenges, he kept working. He didn’t have anyone to teach him how to make the bent wood furniture so there was a lot of trial and error. That is called consistency, persistence and resilience. As a leader, you will have many frustrations and more than a few failures with disengaged employees. But your success will come over time as your team realizes you care and listen. You add value when they trust you. That will probably take some time. Don’t give up but make the bold move, Keep Delivering Value Until They Appreciate It.
Loren Murfield, Ph.D.
I work with leaders and organizations to think bigger and reach higher to find breakthrough success. This is a process that I can help you learn. One of the ways I help clients is by guiding them through my Disruptive Opportunity Challenge. Begin the process today by contacting me.
(C) 2019 Murfield International, Inc.