Job love relationship hack #4: fulfillment
Fulfillment is defined as the feeling of being happy or satisfied because you are doing something useful, important or interesting.
More than ever, people want their jobs to be fulfilling, and feeling content and happy with the work you do is a key element of job love.
I say ‘more than ever’ because if you think back 100 or even 50 years ago, people worked to survive. Most of my ancestors were farmers and there is a good chance that yours were too. Even though they probably worked to survive, I can imagine that it would be fulfilling work in its own way – the healthy birth of an animal, the completion of a harvest, the act of making food from a small seed that was sown months before.
Fast forward to 2019 and the world of work couldn’t be more different. And while most of us are still working to put food on the table, work itself is often much less tangible than farming, carpentry or stone masonry. My own personal theory about fulfillment is that we have always needed to feel a sense of satisfaction but it has gained more importance with the evolution of the workplace. Maybe it is because we are no longer fighting for survival. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, most people’s basic needs are easily satisfied so we seek to satisfy higher level needs. I also think that for some of us our work can be less tangible so seeing the results of your work may not be as easy.
So, let’s dive into the real question that we are trying to answer in this article. How do you create a fulfilling employee experience?
First, let’s look at the three things that are considered the trademarks of a fulfilling employee experience:
- Feeling personal mastery and growth
- Feeling like you belong and are connected
- Feeling that you are making a difference
We think our winning formula for internal communications is a useful framework that can help us understand how internal communication can support a more fulfilling employee experience.
INFORM employees to support personal mastery and growth
Learning and growing is extremely important to employees but organizations need to think far beyond the traditional sources of learning such as training and formal classes. Twenty years ago, Bill Gates wrote, “How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.” I believe organizations need to put information and knowledge at the fingertips of their employees. Providing clear and easy to access information such as processes, policies, and corporate information gives people the tools to learn, grow and help themselves to information when they need it. I think we can all agree that there is nothing more soul-sucking than wasting time trying to track down basic company information.
Internal communication can also support collaboration and knowledge sharing through with innovative programs, events and tools.
INVOLVE employees to create a sense of belonging
More and more research has proven that creating a feeling of belonging and fostering relationships is critical to building engagement. Belonging is not the same as being ‘a fit’ – fit implies that everyone is the same whereas belonging is about acceptance.
Internal communications strategies and tactics need to consider how to create a sense of belonging. To do this, best practices include looking at the employee journey which starts even before people are hired. Once you have mapped the employee journey, identify those opportunities to create belonging and use communication to help create those connections. For example, research by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy found that onboarding is a particularly great time to build a sense of belonging because their first few days are a time of vulnerability. And don’t forget, nothing makes you feel accepted more than feeling like leaders care about what you think and listen to your ideas so building your internal communication strategy to increase involvement of employees is critical.
INSPIRE employees to connect them to a higher purpose
A sense of meaning and higher purpose in organizations has been proven to improve results, particularly if it that purpose is authentic, clear and resonates in a meaningful way in the organization.
Once you have identified your organization’s higher purpose, it is important to weave it into the company narrative and use it in everything from job posting, on-boarding materials and company events. Consistent messages, along with powerful storytelling will help people understand the impact of their work, leading to greater fulfillment and job satisfaction. Consider a hospital that has identified providing patients with an exceptional experience as their core purpose – telling stories about how specific initiatives delivered on the purpose can support a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Admittedly, fulfillment is a very individual thing but it’s also something you shouldn’t leave to chance. If you have done your homework and understand your employees, you can use our formula and some of the best practices we have suggested to support a more fulfilling employee experience.