Now more than ever, employees are looking for a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. But where does that purpose come from--the worker or the organization?
In the 1960s (or so the story goes) President Kennedy was visiting NASA. While on a tour, he saw a man walking down the hallway with a broom and a bucket. Kennedy walked over to him, introduced himself and said, "What do you do here?" The man, who was clearly a janitor, replied, "Sir, I help put a man on the moon."
That story has been told and retold because it's a great example of what that sense of purpose at work looks like and how it is something that every employee can (and should) have. But, where does this come from? Is the employee responsible for bringing that purpose with them to work every day, or is it the organization's responsibility to help foster and create it?
From what I have seen, a true sense of purpose is shared by both parties.
On the one hand, the organization should help employees connect the work they are doing to the impact they are having. This means doing things like sharing stories, meeting with customers (or with the community the organization is impacting) and creating opportunities for growth.
On the other hand, the employee cannot just show up to work assuming they will be coddled and have every single one of their wants met. After all, organizations shouldn't be trying to create Pinocchio Island. Employees must show up to work every day with an open mind - looking for ways to contribute, to learn and to grow. Their attitude should be positive, and they should genuinely try to do a good job versus just "going through the motions."
Perhaps above all, employees must know why they are working for the organization to begin with. Is it simply for the money, or is it because they feel a certain connection to the brand? Either is ok.
The greatest sense of purpose comes when both the organization can connect what the employee does to the impact they are having, and when the employee shows up with an open mind, ready to contribute and give it their all. This is not a one-sided solution.
Sherri Elliott-Yeary, CEO of Generational Guru is an award-winning speaker, professional business consultant, and published author who energetically engages international audiences with her practical strategies for attracting, growing, and retaining top talent and loyal customers from every generation. Sherri brings over twenty years of hands-on experience to support you in designing generational solutions that address:
Cross-Generational Leadership Challenges
Generational Blind Spots in Sales
Effective Recruitment and Retention
Marketing to Millennials
For more information, please contact Sherri via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call her at 469-971-3663.