One of the keys to retaining valued employees and talents is to provide them with an organisational experience that truly wows them to stay for more.
This article is part of a 6-week series exploring the key dimensions of an organisational experience - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication.
Based on Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, PACE developed further research to determine which factors within these dimensions are the most important to the employees.
This week, we’re looking at the first dimension of our Organisational Experience research: Meaningful Work. What does it take for a job to be meaningful and why does it matter?
A Harvard Business Review article cited “Meaning is the New Money”. The age-old belief that people will work harder for more money is being quickly disavowed by employees of today. When employees find meaning in their work, they are more engaged and driven to contribute towards the organisation’s mission.
There is a quantifiable difference between organisations with and without engaged employees. Qualtrics 2020 Employee Experience Trends noted that companies with high levels of engagement “achieve 2.5 times more revenue growth and 40% less churn”. They found that employee engagement in certain APAC countries such as Singapore (47%), South Korea (40%), and Japan (35%) lagged behind the global average, suggesting that there is a lot of room for improvement.
How then, can we best engage employees?
According to Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, there are four key factors to creating meaningful work: Selected to Fit, Empowered Teams, Autonomy, and Time for Slack (in order of importance, according to our Organisational Experience research).
Selected to Fit
Our research shows that this is the most crucial factor when it comes to having a positive organisational experience.
Finding the right fit for the job requires looking beyond the surface value of a potential employee, such as their grades or previous experience. It also considers their personality, their strengths, and how well they will align with the values and culture of the workplace. For instance, in a team where work is expected to be self-directed and independent, an employee who requires more specific guidance and instruction will not thrive.
A University of Iowa analysis found that workers who were a better fit for their organisations were more likely to stay with their company for the long run, and were more productive overall.
Conversely, employees who are poor fits will cost the company not just financially, but culturally, due to high turnover and low morale.
It is important to stress here that selecting employees who are a good fit should not be discriminatory. Organisational culture should be focused on organisational values, which should reflect and be representative of a diverse workforce.
This is the second most important factor that contributes to a meaningful experience at work, according to our research.
Empowered teams are usually small, dynamic teams that are capable of working quickly and flexibly. The small size also fosters greater mutual trust between team members.
This isn’t a new idea. In the 1970s, Alan Ingham introduced the concept of Social Loafing - proving that people did not work as hard in larger teams because it was harder to identify their individual contributions.
Recently, we’ve seen organisations of all sizes begin to take this to heart, even tech giants like Amazon. Jeff Bezos’s two-pizza rule requires that all internal teams should be small enough that they can be fed with two pizzas, which means that all internal teams in Amazon are small and efficient. Small teams allow for individual recognition and personal accountability. This brings us to the next factor in creating meaningful work.
Mercer’s 2017 Talent Trend survey found that employees want to be recognised for their individuality, rather than being a cog in a much larger machine. Each employee brings unique skills and qualities to the workplace; their contributions should be recognised and their creativity encouraged. This can be as small as allowing them to personalise their cubicles or as open as allowing creative collaboration to solve problems.
Time for Slack
Employees need breathing room to stop and reflect on their work. A 2014 Stanford Study shows that workers are only truly productive up to 50 hours a week. Even employees who work 70 hours only have the same productivity as employees who work 55 hours. Overworking your employees is a quick way to cause burnout. Those with time to reflect are 22.3% more productive than those who don’t, research shows.
Ultimately, organisations that incorporate these four factors will provide a more meaningful work environment for its employees. Our findings show that Meaningful Work is the most highly ranked of the 6 key dimensions of the organisational experience - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication. Creating real change isn’t easy. But if we want to attract and retain talent, making sure that we select good fits, create empowered teams, allow for autonomy and time for slack is a surefire way to achieve it.
For a sample copy of Real® Organisational Experience report, click here.