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It shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone that a happy employee is a more engaged and productive employee. But happiness, on its own, will not address the individual’s need for meaning in what they do. One could even argue that true happiness can only happen if the actions taken have a deeper meaning.

Happiness is all about the self. The feeling of meaning, however, arises from a social context. Having meaning in one’s work is about giving more than receiving, which, in a sense, translates to a contribution to something bigger than oneself. To have meaning implies that you need to satisfy a cultural set of values – which are then noticed and confirmed by others.

So, how can leaders inspire and nurture this sense of meaning in their employees and help them become happier by climbing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? The answer may be more straightforward than most have anticipated. You can help employees find meaning by expressing your appreciation and gratitude for their efforts.

And while appreciation and gratitude may be used interchangeably by some, they are, nevertheless, distinct. In the context of the workplace, appreciation is about recognizing a job well done, while gratitude is a thank you for a benefit you received as a leader. The two work great together and are powerful tools to be used.

And while appreciation and gratitude may be used interchangeably by some, they are, nevertheless, distinct.

While appreciation satisfies an employee’s personal need, gratitude satisfies their social need. In combination, they can bring meaning to someone’s work because it shows that it’s both valuable through appreciation and personally beneficial through gratitude.

In other words, your appreciation will build a healthy company culture, while your gratitude will develop a healthy workforce.

Recommended: 3 Kinds of Feedback: Separating Appreciation, Coaching, and Evaluation

The Power of Employee Engagement

What is engagement at work, if not the willingness to do more than the required minimum? In this sense, employee engagement is an attitude that’s entirely backed up by one’s behavior at work.

With this in mind, an engaged employee is someone who is wholly aligned with the company’s strategy and culture, delivering on both their personal goals as well as the organization’s. Not only will they be a great contributor to the bottom line, but will also reinforce the company’s strategies and culture, in the process.

The best way to sustain employee engagement is to enable your workforce by providing them with the necessary environment, equipment, knowledge, and help. You should also energize your workforce by helping them find meaning in their work.

Lastly, you will also have to throw empowerment and encouragement into the mix, as these will help nurture and sustain employee engagement over the long term. Empowerment will transfer the power to achieve from the leader to the employee. Encouragement will inspire your employees to go beyond the required minimum, take more risks, and make the extra effort that’s indicative of engagement, to begin with.

Recommended: Leadership is All About Raising the Level of Empowerment in Your Workplace

Help Employees Find Meaning in Their Work

By helping your employees find meaning in their work, you will be well on your way to creating a robust and stable company culture that will spread to everyone who comes in contact with it. With meaning comes engagement, and with engagement comes productivity. If you want to learn more, let’s connect: or

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734