So many articles I’ve seen over the past year talk about finding motivation, engaging and retaining employees, and pursuing that ever-elusive workplace unicorn: work-life balance. None of these are necessarily bad topics – in fact, I think they are conversations that need to happen as new generations begin to enter the workforce. However, I think they are all asking us a similar question: do you feel like what you do matters? This is more than just finding your “why”, the reason you come in to work every day. And don’t get me wrong this is important too, just like conversations about engagement and work-life balance. What I’m talking about is knowing that what you do is improving the lives of those around you or making the world a better place.
It sounds a bit touchy-feely, but what we’re asking is do you feel like you add value through your work?
This can be a hard question to answer. But I would like to argue that (barring active hostility to the world and people in it) every single job, no matter how menial or solitary, adds value in some way. Sometimes this just takes some creative thinking. My previous job essentially boiled down to data entry, but if I hadn’t done this work, the client I was working for wouldn’t have been trained appropriately to do the their research into actual life-saving medical procedures. It sounds contrived, but by simply showing up to work each day and doing my best at the work I was doing, I was a vital part of saving thousands of lives. This reminder was so motivating whenever I had a bad day or got frustrated!
And this is the kind of mindset that is so important today: to know that every day you show up to work, you really and truly are helping someone and adding value to their lives. You are important! I get it – sometimes your day-to-day can feel so insignificant, so meaningless. You can feel like an itty, bitty cog in a vast, complicated machine… but even that seemingly tiny cog is a vital part of the whole operation – without it, systems break down and work stops. Your absence creates a vacuum.
Your presence every day improves the lives of others. Your work matters.
-Megan Flahive, Executive Assistant