Why is finding meaningful experience at work important? Because when employees find meaning in their work, that their input is valued, they feel a sense of ownership.
There is value in staff satisfaction as well as profits
I could not wait for the weekend to start, but a friend asked to meet in her office, just as I was about to head home.
She was telling me how she could not wait to retire, and how she drags herself to work every day. My friend is barely 40 years old, but had already given up on her career.
On her digital calendar, she made a countdown of how many more days she has to work before she can retire "forever". Whatever was happening at her organisation has clearly made her fall into some sort of depression and I had to know why.
She was complaining about how neither she nor her colleagues found their work meaningful anymore, how they felt that the management was too focused on increasing profit, and no one valued their input or communicated with them on the company's mission.
"They don't value us enough to inform us and tell us about the company's goals, change of our mission statement. We have to hear it from our friends in their majlis outside. So why should we care to put our efforts into something when they don't appreciate us?"
My friend sensed my dismay, and so she grabbed my hand and took me over to her colleagues to hear that she was not the only one.
"See Ahmed over there," she told me, as she pointed to an Emirati man in his late 30s.
"He used to be so enthusiastic about work when he joined 10 years ago, travelling to conduct meetings with clients, and bringing great business. But when our company changed its mission and scope of work a while back, he found himself with little to do. The focus of the work and ideas are now decided within a small group of western experts, eliminating the rest of us. We feel lost. "They can't fire us because we're Emiratis, and so we kept waiting for something to do, and the days turned to months, and now we have lost our enthusiasm and drive."
I asked her why they did not leave and apply to other organisations. She chuckled and said that this organisation is their first home, and that doing nothing for a while made them used to not having so much to do. And besides, they will be able to retire soon, so why bother?
It is sad to walk through life and experience work as a dreadful place to go to, let alone the financial weight it puts on organisations.
Sadly, this case is not limited to the organisation where my friend works.
An Employee Engagement Report by BlessingWhite, a global consultancy firm, found that only 31 per cent of individuals in North America, Europe, South-East Asia, Australia/New Zealand and China were engaged in their work.
But why is finding meaningful experience at work important?
Because when employees find meaning in their work, that their input is valued, they feel a sense of ownership. Their work and their progress means something personal to them.
When people take ownership of their work, they become more motivated, more committed, and that eventually results in a better performance for the organisation as a whole.
Unfortunately, not all companies try to make work meaningful for their employees, especially financial organisations that focus on increasing profit at tough times.
Some managers believe that paying people at the end of every month is a reason enough for them to perform and put their hearts into their work. But this kind of motivation only goes so far.
Managers need to realise the importance of communication with their staff, how it is just as important to focus on the satisfaction of their employees as they are in ensuring profit and the company's progress.
The Starbucks coffee chain's corporate mission statement highlights how much people and their input are valued:
"Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time."
Maybe every organisation should have an element of Starbucks in its mission statement.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi