How to Create Meaning at Work

What does it all mean? How to create “meaning” at work

by Scott Crabtree

How can you make more meaningful work, so you can enjoy all the benefits and live longer?

Why should you care if you find your work meaningful? Because according to peer-reviewed research, finding meaning and significance at work improves:

  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • Happiness
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Individual Flourishing
  • Citizenship
  • Culture
  • Performance

Keeping in mind that we are NOT your mental health professionals, the research also shows that meaning also decreases:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Absenteeism

How Do We Create “Meaning” and Enjoy Its Benefits?

Based on the research of Dr. Micheal F. Steger and others, meaning can come from you as an individual, and/or from your organization. Some people create and bring a sense of mission with them to the workplace. Some organizations are better than others at creating workplaces where employees are a part of creating success, cohesiveness, and culture, understanding how individual work has a bigger impact in the world. 

Three Components of Meaning at Work

Science identifies 3 key components of a meaningful work life:

  1. Significance and purpose
  2. Work’s contribution to finding broader meaning in life
  3. Work making a positive contribution to a greater good

Dr. Steger has an assessment to help you measure meaning at work.

How Can We Add More “Meaning” at Work?

Making work more meaningful is a complex subject, but to get started:

  1. People make meaning for themselves. It most often comes from our impact on other people. Look to your relationships and how you positive affect others if you want to find more meaning in your work.
  2. Bringing your unique strengths to the job can help work be more meaningful to you. If you don’t know what your strengths are and how to best develop and use them at work, here’s free help (and our workshop Truly Tapping Your Strengths–and Those of Your Team goes much deeper.)
  3. Organizations can help people with clear job expectations, and a clear understanding of how a person’s work connects with bigger organizational strategies. Help your people connect the meaningful dots.

Again that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What makes your work meaningful? 

Thanks for helping me do the most meaningful work I’ve ever done.

Scott Crabtree

As the Founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Brain Science, Scott Crabtree empowers individuals and organizations to apply findings from cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology to boost productivity and happiness at work.


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