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Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work

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By Loren Miner, Chief Operating Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

Tips to Achieve Meaningfulness at Work

Meaningfulness at work, to me, is about finding your sense of purpose, a state of mind that results in an inner spark that you carry and allows you to wake up every day looking forward to work, and believing deeply that what you do at work matters. The purpose is the guiding star, but the sense of purpose is what motivates us to strive toward that star. This insight can be useful for individuals, hiring managers, and leaders.

Start With the Me that is You

Whichever of the above categories you fall into, start by clarifying your own purpose. It will help you seek out jobs that allow you to channel your sense of purpose as well as hire people who can identify with your purpose. One way to do this is to give honest, well-considered answers to the following questions.

  1. What makes you smile?
  2. What and who inspire you?
  3. What makes you feel good about yourself at the end of the day?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. What are your deepest values?
  6. What causes are you passionate about?
  7. What would you regret not having done at the end of your life?

Hiring for a Sense of Purpose Blogger Louis Effron poses this challenge succinctly: “In a world where up to 80% of employees are unhappy in their jobs and most companies struggle to articulate their purpose, how do you hire an organization of people who feel so passionate about what they do that they can’t stop doing it?”

Tall order! But hiring managers can support this effort by identifying new employees with a clear sense of purpose. One interviewing tactic is to go beyond education, skills and experience. Ask Candie Candidate, “What do you love most about what you do?” Candie’s specific answer is important, but what you’re really listening for is that sense of purpose, that spark of passion that she could bring to your open role.

Another tactic is to review each of Ms. Candidate’s previous jobs to understand where she excels, what recognition she received, and what gave her a chance to shine. You should see a “purpose profile” emerge. Compare it with the purpose profile of your best people — if it’s a good match, make Candie an offer. Quickly.

I really like the idea of asking candidates to describe any project that they can think of that they worked on in their life (even outside of work) that they got very passionate about.

Helping Your Team Get Purpose-Focused

Now that you have a team of people with a sense of purpose, you want to help them focus that sense on the shared purposes of your company. At Decision Toolbox (DT), for example, one of our guiding purposes is ensuring goodness of fit — a right person for every job and a right job for every person. Whatever your company’s purposes are, make sure your team understands and buys in on those purposes. It’s one step toward building teams that reach higher levels of productivity and make stronger impacts.

Another step: ensure employees understand that every position has a client, every position provides service to someone — externally and/or internally. Maintenance, accounting, IT, the CEO . . . they all have clients. Purpose-minded people appreciate the value of service and find job satisfaction in providing it.

There are plenty of programs you can use to help your team become more productive in their role. But without a doubt, the most productive employees are those who feel like they do their job well — that their strengths are well suited for the role that they have. At DT we have introduced StrengthsFinder 2.0, from the Gallup people, which helps people clarify their top inherent strengths. Once you and your team have identified those strengths, you can help each team member leverage them to become more engaged and passionate about their work.

Don’t Settle

I could go on — this topic is so important! But with just a little space left, let me leave you with a quote from the commencement address Steve Jobs gave to Stanford’s class of 2005:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

Further Reading:

Net Impact/Rutgers report – What Workers Want

Connect with Loren on LinkedIn.

To learn more about Decision Toolbox, contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

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2 Responses to “Meaningfulness at Work: Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work”

  1. April 22, 2014 at 11:55 am, Jay Barnett said:

    This is a great piece! I find there is a direct relationship between how energized or tired I am at the end of the day and how present my sense of purpose was throughout the day.


  2. August 14, 2014 at 11:24 am, Meaningful Work: Change Your Attitude or Change Your Job - DecisionToolbox said:

    […] Find Your Sense of Purpose, Love Your Work Don’t Dream of a Meaningful Job….Demand It Understanding What is Meaningful:  Life as a Spreadsheet Meaningfulness at Work:  A Personal Journey […]


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