Attract and Retain Employees with Meaningful Work

With an increase in the competition for top talent, is retaining your best employees at the forefront of your mind? As a manager, you’ve probably heard us say that employees need more than just a good paycheck to stay motivated and loyal…but what else do they need?

One obvious answer is rewards and recognition, which can be uniquely designed by your organization. Mary Davids, a career development consultant, says, “Rewarding an employee can be shown in many ways, such as corporate recognition both internally and externally (company website or press release), an additional paid mini-vacation, an opportunity to take the lead on a new project, a promotion, a donation in their name to a charity they support or the most popular form of reward, a bump in pay or an unexpected bonus. While these represent some of the ways an employer can reward workers, they don’t work without one key element; communication. What money represents to one employee may be of no concern to another. The key here is to find out what your employees value most and work from there.” (For other less costly ideas, click here.)

But is there something besides rewards that can motivate an employee to stay? Yes, asserts Scott Kuethen, Amtec’s CEO. He feels that providing employees with meaningful work is key to their retention, which explains why Amtec’s mission is to help people find meaningful work and help our client companies build high-performing teams. But what exactly constitutes meaningful work?

According to Kuethen, meaningful work can be described in two ways:

1) Work an employee likes to do and feels good about doing. When you’re hiring a new worker, it’s imperative to look beyond the candidate’s qualifications. As a hiring manager, it’s easy to assume that because a person is able to do something, he or she probably enjoys that task. But there may be a gap between a person’s ability and passion to perform the task.

You yourself can probably think of something you’re more than capable of doing but find significantly less enjoyable than some other task you find really rewarding. I remember that, when I worked as an elementary school librarian, I was quite capable of doing all the tasks assigned to me. If given a choice, however, I’d rather read a book out loud to students or glue a broken book back together than re-shelve the books in the same exact slots every day.

In order to screen candidates for their enjoyment level of the main tasks required, you’ll want to develop behavioral interview questions for the position. For instance, “Can you tell me what was your least favorite task in your last position, and what was your favorite? What made the difference?”

2) Work that has greater purpose beyond the employee individually.Some businesses naturally have an intrinsic purpose, such as saving premature babies by manufacturing an infant heart monitor. Beyond pure capitalism, however, your company may struggle to identify ways in which your enterprise makes the world a better place. Yet candidates and employees, especially millennials, really want to experience this sense of purpose through their place of employment.

Realizing that a sense of purpose motivates employees, how can you brand your company to be perceived as providing something meaningful? This is where your creativity as an owner or manager comes in to play. Off the top of my head, here are a few of examples of purpose-added branding:

Do you run a construction company? Then you can be proud of how your buildings are functional, beautiful, or built to last. In addition, your team can contribute both effort and money to Habitat for Humanity, because you also care about building your community. (Studies show that charity improves employee motivation.)

Do you manufacture bicycles? Then not only do you contribute to people’s health, but perhaps your employees would enjoy participating in a Christmas bicycle giveaway at a children’s hospital or the Ronald McDonald House. Are you a financial planning institution? As a protector of your clients’ assets, you provide security and care-free retirement for those you help. Partnering with your company, your employees could help providing free tax services for senior citizens or a battered women’s shelter. Or does your machine shop want to reward star performers? You could offer them select-your-own-charity gift cards.

Whatever your business produces or provides, you have the opportunity to attract and retain employees with meaningful work. Your first tactic must be to screen employees to make sure they’re the right fit to enjoy performing the specific tasks of the position. Along with that, you must reward them in ways that mean the most to them individually. Your second strategy is to develop a sense of purpose that personifies your company and allows employees to be part of something bigger than themselves. Providing meaningful work may not only be a gift you give to others but one which also gives back to you!

How can you find top talent? Click here!

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