The search for meaning in the workplace

by Cameron Edmond07 Nov 2013

Australia’s disengagement epidemic is well documented, but what is less understood is the two-way nature of engagement. Employers may be relieved to know that sometimes it’s not all their fault. In fact, many Australian workers are unaware as to where their passions lie and what drives them, according to a recent study from Right Management. Not surprisingly, employers do play an important role, with the study revealing that only 31% of employers discuss career development with their staff, greatly increasing the chances of turnover.

Organisations with career management strategies were more likely to retain and engage staff, with 6% of these employees planning to leave their organisation within the year. This is compared to 24% in organisations that do not do so.

Bridget Beattie, general manager Australia and New Zealand at Right Management, stated that HR professionals must educate their leaders on the need for career management and development strategies.

“As organisations flatten and social media opens up new opportunities for employees to position themselves effectively in the job market, managers must learn to have career conversations with their staff to avoid skill mismatches and maintain high productivity,” she stated.

Tim Roche, career management leader Australia and New Zealand at Right Management, outlined the low levels of ownership employees take of their jobs in Australia. Speaking at a breakfast seminar recently, Roche stated 96% of individuals believe they are not achieving the business goals they are seeking in relation to their career.

Roche stated that the pressures of parents’ expectations, as well as entrance marks into University courses are large contributors to having people fall into the wrong jobs when they enter the workforce. He stated that more employees need to find a reason to ‘get out of bed every day’.

Key HR takeaways
Dr Suzy Green, positive psychologist and founder of The Positivity Institute, who will be discussing disengaged employees at the Meaning@Work Breakfast seminar in Sydney and Melbourne early next week – promoting the need for a greater sense of meaning in one’s working life – outlined three tips to help Australians find more meaning in the workplace:

Know their values. Encourage employees to look at the core values of their lives. Do they enjoy working with others? Perhaps they should look at transitioning into a role that encourages that, as opposed to a more isolated position.

Engage in job crafting. Employees will not necessarily be in the exact field they want to be in. It may be useful to encourage them to take up other roles and re-shape their position to encompass that. This is an excellent way to help them transition to a more fulfilling job while keeping them within the organisation.

Play to their strengths. Strengths is a much broader concept – it goes beyond what one is necessarily competent at, but also what truly drives them. Helping employees discover these and use them in the workplace can greatly enrich their lives.



  • by RivercityIR 8/11/2013 10:38:20 AM

    Excellent article. I would expand on it a bit by saying that the problems manifest from the outset of HR stepping to uni to get their degree. In a recent tutorial I attended for research it was disturbing to hear some of the students actually question the need for constant communication with employees, even going so far as to say "I won't be talking to them everyday, that won't be my job"....I think the issues faced by HR today would best be tackled at the core area of their initial education. If this is a handful of students views on "employee engagement" I would hate to hear what the thousands of others around the country think about their future careers.

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