8 Essential Elements for Finding Fulfillment at Work
We feel most alive when we’re engaged in work and relationships that have meaning for us. Most of us derive meaning from rewarding work that has impact, relationships that are fulfilling, and opportunities to learn and grow. Each person will find this meaning for himself or herself, but some environments are more conducive than others to finding fulfillment. Organizations help bring out the best in their employees by creating environments where people love to work. When employees are at their best, not only do they feel great, but they get terrific results for their organizations.
Here are some suggestions for creating a culture where people feel tremendous satisfaction and reward and are lead toward finding fulfillment.
1. The Why
Have each member of your team write a statement that defines their personal mission. What impact do they want to have? What provides them the most satisfaction and fulfillment? Ask them to focus on the benefits of their actions rather than on specific activities or tasks.
My mission is to [ ] so that [X outcome] occurs.
Example: A receptionist might say: My mission is to treat people with care and respect so they feel valued and know that they matter.
This is an important exercise for all employees. It can be enlightening to post those responses in a prominent place as well as near where each person works. It’s as powerful to understand and recognize why individuals do the work they do as it is for individuals to articulate the “why” of their work. Those statements can be ready reminders and motivators of the reason we do the work we do. We all know – and research supports – that making a difference is key to gaining meaning from what we do. It helps us to be more engaged and committed when we directly see and/or understand the benefit of our work. Seeing the results adds more meaning to our work.
Individuals are at their best when they enjoy their work. How do we bring out the best in ourselves and our employees?
It’s as powerful to understand and recognize why individuals do the work they do as it is for individuals to articulate the “why” of their work. Those statements can be ready reminders and motivators of the reason we do the work we do.
2. Be Authentic
We all like to be around people who are authentic. Individuals who are genuine set the tone and give us the freedom to be ourselves, too. An open and authentic culture will encourage employees to speak up when they see opportunities for improvement. People are likely to invest greater effort and ingenuity when they feel safe. This kind of culture leads to better results for the organization and supports a workforce that derives meaning from work by making significant contributions.
We all want to be heard and know that others value what we have to say. This doesn’t mean that our ideas will be implemented, but it does mean that our thoughts and beliefs matter. Feeling heard and knowing that others value what we say help us to feel connected, which in turn adds meaning to our work and our relationships.
When we receive words and expressions of appreciation, we receive validation for who we are and what we do. Appreciations bring out the best in us and help us to feel respected and valued by the person who gave the appreciation. When we are acknowledged for our contributions, we have more energy, feel great, and perform better. When people take an interest in us and appreciate us, we feel cared for and leave work feeling fulfilled. That feeling stays with us when we leave the work place and impacts our relationships outside of work.
People are likely to invest greater effort and ingenuity when they feel safe. This kind of culture leads to better results for the organization and supports a workforce that derives meaning from work by making significant contributions.
A basic human need for all of us is to belong – to be part of something. When we connect with others and feel that we belong, we feel energized, engaged, and committed. Recognizing how our contribution makes a difference and fits into the whole is an important aspect of belonging.
6. Align Strengths
Each of us is unique. What comes naturally to us is different from what comes naturally to another person. When we are doing work that makes use of our strengths, we feel successful; we thrive. Individuals who are in roles that fit their strengths are more likely to add value.
When we are given opportunities to learn new skills, gain new expertise, and build on our strengths, we grow. Mastering new skills and learning new concepts are exciting ways to refresh and deepen meaning in our work. Understanding our role and the desired outcome is important. Being given the freedom to decide how to achieve the desired result allows us to be creative, communicates trust, and opens the organization up to new possibilities.
Imagine a world where each one of us is engaged in work that has meaning for us and that gives us tremendous pleasure. I hope that’s the case for you.
8. Create a Culture
Create an environment where you love to work and where you have the opportunity to thrive. If you are a leader, develop an atmosphere that you enjoy sharing with others and where you are able to create, develop, and grow. Be clear about the organization’s values. Model those values and have them prominently displayed. Make sure all employees are aligned with the values. If you enjoy your work, you will spread that positive attitude among others in your workplace.
Imagine a world where each one of us is engaged in work that has meaning for us and that gives us tremendous pleasure. I hope that’s the case for you. If that’s not the case currently, what can you do to bring meaning to yourself and those around you? What can you do to feel more engaged and fulfilled in your work and your relationships? I hope these suggestions will begin or continue this journey toward finding sulfillment.