There’s something to be said for office fruit bowls. Offering surface-level benefits – exercise programs, mindfulness, and the like can have a positive impact on how your staff feel at work, encouraging productivity.
However, there’s only so much they can do. Many organisations may find themselves falling into the trap of using this approach as a crutch, or a band-aid solution that fails to tackle deeper issues – after all, it’s easier to make a gratefulness jar than it is to openly confront the structural, cultural, and procedural roots of a workplace. Without addressing these causes, simply tacking on lunchtime yoga is unlikely to solve what is the most significant link to a well-functioning workplace: meaningfulness.
Quite simply, a happy, productive, and healthy workforce, and consequently, a well-performing company, is driven by a sense of meaning. So, what drives the sense of meaning itself? That’s more likely to lie with management than with yoga mats. It can be painfully easy for leaders to unravel the meaning that employees find at work. Effectively managing staff happiness is a key leadership capability and something that, when done with skill, benefits not only employees, but management, executives, and the business performance as a whole. This kind of leadership can be learned with effective training, which is where programs such as Rise’s “Leading with Meaning” comes into play.
‘Work related mental disorders’ from the Safe Work Australia report states that meaningless work is a condition causing occupational stress, along with several other conditions surrounding career development, organisational culture, and work design. According to the report, several mental disorders can be attributed to occupational stress, including burn-out, adjustment disorder, depression, and anxiety. Some other signs of meaninglessness at work are less serious, but still take a toll – struggling to get out of bed in the morning and dreading the commute, drinking at night to forget the day, or even avoiding telling people what you do for a living. Employers can help to prevent these consequences by taking steps to build meaning in the workplace.
With this in mind, a comprehensive employee happiness and meaning strategy will look beyond pleasant perks. What deeper organisational problems need to be addressed? What expectations are leaders putting on their staff, and what work conditions exist that may be contributing to occupational stress, tension, or even resentment? How can leaders be trained to achieve meaningfulness for their teams?
But, first things first – grab a banana. They’re good for your health.
Author: Rise Team