At Work, Why It Matters that You Matter

Since I was a little kid, I was obsessed with reading. I hoarded books and would get in trouble for reading my library selections in class. As I went through college and came to the realization that I would likely never be Stephen King, I thought about what work I could do that would keep me connected to books.

The answer was clear: publishing. I dreamed of joining a big publishing house such as Scholastic or Pearson.

Books are still magic to me. I have learned so much about myself and the world. I have grown knowledgeable and empathetic. I have stayed curious and wanted to explore thoughts of all kinds. And even more so, I wanted to be a part of an industry that helped  build those traits and feelings in others.

I quickly learned, however, that, despite how connected I was to the end product, a publishing house (like any company) is at the end of the day looking to make a buck.

I don’t necessarily feel that capitalism is bad. But when the company itself sees the end product as simply a means for profit, they’ve lost sight of their actual purpose. And, in turn, will drive a wedge between their employees and the purpose of their product.

All products are created to serve. They are made to fill a need. In focusing entirely on the profit, companies are no longer providing employees a reason to stay. Once that employee can find another opportunity for a paycheck, there is little reason for them not to jump ship.

Digitalist Magazine recently highlighted research that showed 85% of employees are likely to stay longer at a socially responsible company. Purpose matters.

I did leave the for-profit world for the non-profit, but for-profits can also provide that same feeling of purpose and helpfulness. There are small shifts that can reinforce to employees that they are contributing their time, talent, and skills for more than just the company’s overall bottom line:

  • Highlight client stories – Emphasize how your product was helpful to a person.
  • Connect employees’ roles to the customer – How is this person’s job ultimately creating a positive impact for the people purchasing your product?
  • Keep people at the center – From customers to employees, your business is for and by people. Maintain the human aspect, rather than falling into a numbers trap.

People want to feel valuable and like they’re doing something that matters. Profit isn’t bad, but it’s not what gets people out of bed in the morning. Let them know they matter, and why.

Photo Credit: Jeff Eaton

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