Helping employees find more meaning in their work could increase productivity, reduce turnover and save money, according to a recent study by BetterUp published in the Harvard Business Review. And who wouldn’t like those results?
The authors of the “Meaning and Purpose at Work” report surveyed 2,285 American professionals working in 26 different industries and at various pay levels, company sizes and demographics. Only half of those studied said their work was as meaningful as it could be, and only five percent rated their current positions as providing the most meaningful work they could imagine having.
The good news for senior living organizations is that people in service-oriented professions, such as medicine, social work and education, reported higher levels of workplace meaning than did people in positions in administrative support and transportation. More good news is that companies where employees believe their work has meaning see benefits.
For instance, more than 90% of employees said they would be willing to trade some of their lifetime earnings — on average, 23% — to have a job that is always meaningful. Such employees also are more productive, spending another hour per week working, and they take two fewer days of paid time off every year.
“Based on established job satisfaction-to-productivity ratios, we estimate that highly meaningful work will generate an additional $9,078 per worker, per year” in productivity, the authors wrote.
Perhaps of greatest interest in senior living, however, is that employees who said they find their work highly meaningful were 69% less likely to plan to quit their jobs within the next six months, and they lasted in their jobs 7.4 months longer, on average, than employees who believe their work lacks meaning.
“Translating that into bottom-line results, we estimate that enterprise companies save an average of $6.43 million in annual turnover-related costs for every 10,000 workers, when all employees feel their work is highly meaningful,” the authors wrote.
So how can you help employees find their work meaningful? The authors offer three suggestions: strive for a culture that offers social support to employees, which creates a shared sense of purpose; make every worker a knowledge worker — solicit feedback and offer coaching and mentoring to support personal growth; and have employees who find higher levels of meaning act as “multipliers of meaning” throughout your company.