Meaning in the Workplace?

We came across an excellent article on Fast Company about worker happiness (and the startling lack thereof).

It starts with the story of an employee who, after two decades of service to a financial institution, decided he couldn’t take it any more:

“I felt like no one cared about me as a person there, and finally decided to extricate myself from the grind. I know many of you feel the same way now in your jobs…trapped and unappreciated.”

The article calls for significant changes in the intent, attitude and behavior of business leaders and makes the following observations and recommendations:

  • What makes people happiest in their jobs is all profoundly personal. “Do I work for an organization whose mission and methods I respect?” “Does my boss authentically advocate for me?” “Is the work I do meaningful?” “Am I afforded sufficient variety in my day?” “Do I feel valued and appreciated for all the work that I do?” We know that all these matter more to people than their compensation – and workers generally don’t quit jobs when these basic needs are met. According to a worldwide Towers Watson study, the single highest driver of employee engagement is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their well-being. Today, only 40% of workers believe that
  • People only thrive when they feel recognized and appreciated. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “Why Appreciation Matters So Much,” Tony Schwartz reminds us that all employees need to be praised, honored, and routinely acknowledged for their efforts and achievements. Consequently, leaders must allow themselves to manage more from their hearts. Our brains are great at building strategies, managing capital, and analyzing data. But it’s the heart that connects us as human beings, and it’s what’s greatly lacking in American leadership today. This is what now must change.
  • Your employees will stay if you tell them directly you need them, care about them, and sincerely plan to support them. Anytime someone quits a job for a reason other than money, they’re leaving in hope that things will be better somewhere else. So, everyone who works for you must be made to feel that they matter. Plan one-on-one meetings and re-discover the dreams each person has at work. Tell people directly how valuable they are to you. To be successful, all your future behavior must demonstrate to your employees that their best career move is to remain working for you.

The value of defining a meaningful position for your brand

A meaningful position is a place between what your business needs and what people want as they strive to create new meaning in their lives.

Operating from this position, your brand is more accessible, approachable and likeable because it reaches out to people in an emotionally meaningful ways.

When a brand has a clear idea of the meaningful position it wants to hold in the hearts and minds of people, it is easier for the leadership to shift the “give and take” of key brand relationships.

Seeing their roles through the lens of meaning, business leaders see how their intent is to inspire a purpose beyond profit as a brand strategy. They realize how their attitude toward employees can be made more welcoming, accepting and empathetic. They shift their behavior in ways that focus on creating a distinct set of positive emotions within the workplace.

From this meaningful position, the brand and its leaders, become far more personally relevant and emotionally important to employees.

This, in turn, positively influences the intent, attitude and behavior of employees (as well as customers, partners, suppliers…indeed, all the people vital to the brand’s success).

Employees relate to the brand beyond the job title and compensation offered. They adopt positive, supportive and helpful attitudes toward the brand. They change their behavior by working with greater purpose, remaining loyal and recommending the brand to others.

Meaningful brands use this human dynamic to thrive.

Leaders of meaningful brands use this human dynamic to inspire, motivate and bond with employees.

For more information explaining the notion of “meaningful” and what it means in the context of creating a meaningful workplace, please download our white paper.


Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.

Photo Credit.


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