3 Keys To Meaningful Work

Employees typically don’t leave jobs for the reasons we think.

Employees typically don’t leave jobs for the reasons we think.

It isn’t due to compensation, benefits, or hours. Those might be symptoms, but the underlying cause typically runs much deeper.

One of the big reasons? Feeling unimportant, like their work doesn’t matter. As one client described it to me, “I’m basically a desk jockey – I get paid to sit and push papers all day.” (Learn more about his transformation in an upcoming blog post.)

Whether you feel this way yourself or you sense disengagement among those you lead, you can make a positive change. Three places to start:

1. Clarify your values.

What are your 3 core values – those that are as important to you as food, water, and shelter? One of the first exercises all of my coaching clients undertake is a Values Clarification to become crystal clear on what matters most.

When you know your values, you can lead and work from a place of integrity. (Bonus tip: Compare your core values to those of your organization. Misalignment here means change in some form is necessary.)


2. SHINE – and help others shine.

The best way to shine? Leverage your passions and strengths as much as possible. Like with #1 above, you must first clarify what these are for you, then engage them – at home, at work, and at all points in between – at every opportunity.

Similarly, help others shine, too. You’ve heard how a candle loses none of its own light by lighting another candle? Be that original candle.


3. Link to the ultimate-ultimate-outcome.

If you work in a department of a large organization, you may not even recognize how your work impacts the next department over. Seek out that connection.

Then, take it a step beyond and see how your contribution impacts the organization.

Then, go a step further and see how your customers, clients, vendors, and/or partners are impacted by what you do.

THEN – and don’t skip this step! – discover what impact your contribution has on your community, society, the world at large. How does your product or service improve life for others? How to the rest of us benefit from what you do? How does your work fulfill a need? This is what will lead you to your ultimate-ultimate-outcome.

Rabbi Kushner eloquently wrote, “Burnout results not from hard work – people are capable of working very hard – but from a sense of futility, the fear that all the hard work isn’t making a difference.”

Start by bringing meaning to work. When you infuse your daily actions with a sense of purpose and contribution, you’ll be less swayed by the bumps along the road, more energized and engaged, and deeply connected to how your work helps you make a living, a difference, and a life.


How could you make your work more meaningful? How would you advise others to create meaningful work?

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