5 must-haves of meaningful work (Guest commentary)

Meaningful work more important than pay, benefits and good supervisors
By Paul Fairlie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/15/2009

HR managers are being pushed to do more with less while still showing the value of their efforts. They need to identify a handful of things that have the greatest impact on employee engagement and productivity. No short list would be complete without “meaningful work.”

My research on more than 800 Canadians found five workplace factors that were drivers of every employee outcome measured, including depression, burnout, overall satisfaction, commitment and turnover thoughts. What were these five things? They weren’t pay, benefits, promotion or even a good supervisor — although these had some impact.

It’s what I call the “Sisyphus effect.” In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was cursed by the gods to push a large rock up a hill and then let it roll down, repeatedly, for all eternity. His curse is the embodiment of meaningless work — no variety, no control, no feedback, no recognition and no significant impact on anything greater than himself.