Have you ever heard of the great resignation? Last year, Anthony Klotz, a professor of business administration at Texas A&M University, coined this term to represent what has been going on in the USA in the last year. Many workers were switching jobs, and many others were leaving the workplace. According to a February 2022 survey by the PEW Research Center of Washington, DC, the majority of workers who quit a job in the USA in 2021 cited low pay, no opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected at work as the reasons why they quit. Across the globe, many workers are on the lookout for opportunities to improve their pay, advance their careers, work in healthier work environments, and find meaning at work. In Kenya, the labour market has not reached maturity, and it is not always easy for workers to change jobs at will. However, the need to find meaning at work is a growing global phenomenon that we all need to pay attention to.
We spend many hours of our active years doing some form of work. This work may be a result of being employed or being in self-employment. Either way, do we find our work meaningful? Do we make an effort to find meaning in what we do? What does “meaningful work” look like? I believe meaningful work makes a difference in the lives of others. Have you ever thought about the impact that your work has on others? Is it positive or negative? Most work can be considered meaningful as it contributes to the greater good of society. Despite this, are employees and those in business searching for meaning in their work, or do they just work? What can we do if we feel like our job is meaningless? What can employers do to create more meaning in work? Did we reflect on this as we market labour day?
What can employers do to create more meaning in work?
Employers have a major responsibility to help their staff find meaning at work. They can do so by helping individuals and teams understand and appreciate the purpose of their work and why that matters not only to them but to others. They can do so by painting the big picture and linking that picture with everyday tasks. For example, if an employee works in an electrical shop, they need to understand that they are not just selling electrical items but making the lives of their customers better. Besides employers, employees, as well, have a responsibility to search for meaning at work. When employees have the right mindset regarding what they do and they do it with excellence, it becomes easier for them to connect their work with a positive contribution to society. This, however, is only possible if our work is aligned with our personal values.
I believe that every hour spent at work should be valuable. When we find meaning at work, there are higher levels of job satisfaction. Further, finding meaning at work prevents burnout and brings us joy. We must always ask ourselves, “Why do we do what we do?” “Do we find it meaningful?” If we do not find any meaning at work, it is time to take some positive action.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy