Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Giving Purpose to Work

Companies across the globe are spending millions of dollars each year on this term we never really heard much about twenty years ago – “employee engagement.”

Why is all this cash being targeted toward employee engagement?  Because research done by The Gallup Organization and others has shown that engaged employees end up driving higher levels of profits.  Engagement = Revenue for a corporation and it leads to higher levels of Mission Impact for a nonprofit.

One aspect of employee engagement has been getting a lot of attention in recent years – the importance of people feeling that their work has a purpose.

*Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, argues that successful organizations today will seek to fulfill the intrinsic motivations of their workforce – what they care about.  You can read more about his approach in my blog of a number of months back.

*Martin Seligman, in his book Authentic Happiness, says that people who can connect their personal purpose to their organization’s purpose are more satisfied.  And that can make all the difference in motivation.  He says that we no longer live in a “money economy” where people are purely motivated by dollars, but that we are in a “satisfaction economy” where an individual’s satisfaction with their work is vital.

*The Gallup Organization has developed a twelve question tool called the Q-12 in which positive answers to the questions correlate with an engaged workforce.  You can learn more about the Q-12 here or even read a Gallup book that fully explains the tool.  All of the questions point to important issues, but I would like to focus on one of them:

“Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?”

As a leader in your organization, you need to do two things to put this lever of employee engagement into action.  First, you need to regularly remind everyone on your staff – and your volunteers – of the importance of your mission and the difference you make.  Do not assume that everyone keeps this in the forefront of their minds.  For example, spend a couple minutes at every staff meeting on a recent story about something your organization has done that exemplifies your Mission Impact.

Next, you need to make sure that each person can draw a direct line between what they do and attach it to the Mission Impact of your organization.  They need to see the direct causal link between their actions and making a difference.  This is easier for some jobs than for others, but it can be done for all.  You want people to point to your Mission Impact and say – “I help make that happen.”

Giving Purpose to Work will make work more fulfilling for everyone on your team and will help them make even more of a Mission Impact.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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