Productivity, innovation and financial performance have all been shown to be connected to employee engagement. One of the key ways you can boost engagement is to help your employees gain greater satisfaction with their career, writes Amalia Chilianis.
While as professionals or leaders, you can’t make someone be more engaged, you can definitely improve and influence the environment, conditions and factors that will enable increased career satisfaction for others.
Psychologists have shown that three factors best facilitate and enable motivation. They are autonomy (i.e. having some control over a situation), a sense of belonging, and feeling competent (having the skills and knowledge to do the work).
In establishing a structure for leaders to have career discussions with their team members, first they should focus on the current role/career and then discuss future possible roles.
In these discussions, if they ensure the individual has some autonomy, feels part of the team and understands how their role contributes to the greater business and the impact it has, then they will have a solid foundation for career satisfaction.
Research has substantiated a number of benefits for people who use their strengths regularly.
These include experiencing more happiness, confidence, energy and vitality, resilience, work performance, high engagement and enjoyment from their work. Ensure managers and leaders are focusing on what is right with people and make sure team members continue to use and develop their strengths.
This will deliver benefits to both the employee and the business. As a reminder, strengths are things people are good at, they find energising and are drawn to activities that use them.
As humans, we are meaning-seeking and meaning-making creatures. In the dictionary, “meaning” as a noun describes what something expresses or represents, or the sense of importance of the thing being described.
A great way to help your employee gain greater satisfaction from their current work is to attribute meaning to the work activities. This can turn something mundane and boring into something that you can derive satisfaction from.
For example, an experiment with hotel cleaners demonstrated that those who attributed a meaning of improving their fitness from cleaning actually became healthier and improved their fitness over just four weeks even though their workload did not change.
Getting clear on the meaning that someone’s contribution to work has can positively drive motivation, perseverance and help people be more involved, enthusiastic and committed.
Meaning and purpose are closely linked. Purpose and knowing your “why” has been a popular topic for some time no, with “purpose” defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
Purpose includes goals, values, aspirations and objectives. Again, as part of career discussions, help people uncover their purpose as it relates to their career.
Use questions like “Why do you get out of bed to do this work?”, “What impact or contribution do you hope to have?”, Why do you want to make that impact or contribution?”.
Someone’s purpose for their career can be very simple, such as “to make a difference” or “to empower others”.
Helping people articulate their purpose or their “why” sustains their motivation and also helps them pursue a satisfying career path.
5. Movement and growth
Movement and growth in working life has great benefits and any change in job or evolution of existing role brings variety, increases experience and learning, and keeps people engaged for longer, building a wealth of business knowledge.
Ensuring people continue to learn and grow and feel like their career is moving/evolving is critical for improving career satisfaction.
Meaningful and satisfying work is incredibly rewarding and brings great benefits to the employee and the business. Enabling and improving that for others is both a responsibility and a gift.
If you set the foundation for motivation, ensure people both use and develop their strengths, are able to derive positive meaning and purpose and continue to move and grow in some way throughout their career, then these thoughtful and small actions will have a great impact for your people and your business.
Amalia Chilianis is the author of Work-a-holistic: A practical guide to changing your career. She is a consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator working internationally.