Do you really just work to put bread on the table?
If so, it’s likely that you are one of the 57% of New Zealanders not engaged in their work*.
It’s a huge economic issue for the country, but let’s set that aside for a moment and consider what those 57% of disengaged workers are losing.
The evidence is clear: Focusing on a mission bigger than ourselves makes us, not only more motivated, but happier and healthier.
Even if our work isn’t particularly challenging, we can develop a mission. It's all in the way we think about our role.
Examples of how a mission can make work more meaningful and engaging
Hotel staff who clean the rooms can see themselves as the people who vacuum the floors and make the beds. That’s just a job. A mission would be to prepare the rooms so that guests feel welcome and pleased they’re staying with us.
Your finance team could think they just write reports with figures in them. A mission is to ensure that the senior management team gets accurate and useful information to monitor the business and make sound decisions.
A parking warden might believe her job is to catch people overstaying their meter and issue tickets. A mission would be to ensure that parking spaces are shared, so that everyone gets a fair turn.
A vital role for leaders
Leaders can help individuals and whole teams develop a mission. Everyone benefits when they do.
Surely every job has a purpose and that purpose benefits humans, or we wouldn’t be doing it.
We can help employees turn the benefits for others from a purpose into a mission - something they make personal, that makes them feel good about getting out of bed in the morning.
The link with your organisation's mission
The Gallup organisation tested hundreds of statements on 25 million employees around the world to see which ones are the best indicators of whether employees are engaged. Twelve statements stood out. One of them was:
‘The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.'
If you are a leader, be explicit about how your organisation benefits others.
Show how your employees’ work contributes to your organisation's mission.
What we do ourselves
At Skillset, we want to be clear what the jobs are about, not just list tasks.
We’ve agreed on ‘job themes’ to sum up the purpose of the role in a few words.
Our executive assistant is our ‘manager of efficiency’ because she doesn’t just book travel and training rooms, she makes us efficient in more ways than you'd want to count. Another colleague is ‘a safe pair of hands for the financial part of our business’.
Defining the purpose of our roles invites us to turn our work into a personal mission.
* From Organisational Effectiveness and Employee Engagement - Right Management - results of a survey of 28,000 employees in 15 countries in 2008-9.