“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”. -Mark Twain
Reading all the latest literature on employee engagement is as depressing as another full day of steady rain. Employee engagement numbers just aren’t changing. While there has been a slight increase over the past few years, the current trends see things slipping back down. Despite many companies ditching the annual employee engagement survey and moving to more frequent pulse measurements, employees are still just as disillusioned about their workplace.
Moving from disheartened to passionate
When employees are engaged in activities they feel are important, it gives meaning to their work and they will be happier. When employees feel bogged down in unimportant work, their stress levels rise. They are more likely to be prospecting for other work, work outside of your organization. And, the number scanning for new opportunities is rising. Of that middle group (approx. 60% of your workforce) that are neither actively engaged nor actively disengaged, research shows that the number investigating work elsewhere has risen from 55% to 80%!
The challenge for leaders is how to move their employees from disheartened to passionate. The reasons to do this are twofold. First, from an organizational point of view, this is the path to improved productivity and better financial performance. Secondly, and I believe more importantly, our employees are human beings, not human doings. There’s nothing like seeing someone blossom and grow into their passions. We want it for ourselves, and our employees deserve no less in their lives.
Author Marcus Buckingham has long promoted the view that one should focus on one’s strengths. I’d like to take this one step further. Let’s agree that it’s time to focus on one’s purpose. I believe that purpose drives strength. When we do what we love, what’s important to us, we are strong.
Finding connection with our work starts by understanding our own personal values. By finding out what’s important to us we can better understand if we’re connected to our work or not. Sometimes we just need to change our perspective in order to align our purpose with the organization. Or, maybe we need to move into another area of the company to more fully live in purpose. Or, maybe there just isn’t a fit and it’s time to find another organization that will fulfill our intentions in a better way.
The next three steps
Here are three steps to help your team members align personal purpose with organizational purpose.
- Define the purpose of your organization or business unit. Why does your company exist? Don’t accept the first answer. Keep drilling down, asking why at least 4 times.
- Have your team members complete a free personal values assessment. Take time to do it yourself, too.
- During one to one “career conversations” shift the focus to how to make the work more meaningful. Bring your own assessment to the meeting and have a discussion about how the values show up in each of your lives. It’s not just about the words, it’s about the experiences the words represent. Challenge yourselves to find ways to bring more of this into the workplace.
If you’d like to have a quick 30 min chat on how to best use this free tool, click here and put PVA in the subject line. Here’s what one of my clients had to say about the exercise: “Understanding my individual needs, goals and personal values was the true perfect storm in guiding me on a journey of both personal and professional self-discovery. I came away energized, focused and motivated to tackle my goals!”
As the leaders in our organizations, we face many challenges in growing our businesses. When strong positive cultures are built, the work flows. It’s through this explosive productivity that these organizations are outperforming the others. Shift your leadership efforts away from efficiency and towards employee fulfillment to experience the best that is yet to come.