Business Team Planning Projects

3 Ways to Cultivate Meaning in the Workplace and Drive Employee Retention

By Sarah Leavitt | 3-min read

With a low unemployment rate and a fierce war for talent across industries, employees have a lot of opportunity to jump ship. As a result, many employees may approach their workplace with a temporary mindset. The average tenure rate for employees at top technology companies, for example, is between 1 and 3 years.  And most Fortune 500 companies have median tenure rates of 5 years or less. The age of diminished employer-employee loyalty is here. But does it have to be that way?

It may not seem like you can do much but it’s worth taking a close look at the real reasons people leave companies. Career advancement is one of the top reasons people quit, and notably, so are finding enjoyment and meaning in work. For workers these days, the value proposition of a workplace is much more than just stability. It’s about a compelling reason to come to work every day. That can mean a sense of purpose in the work, a connection to coworkers, and a growth path forward.

These are also all main ingredients that help create a deep connection between one’s work and company, which some researchers are calling workplace spirituality. Developing this type of connection is in fact one of your biggest opportunities to improve the retention of your best talent. Companies that keep employees around long term are often the best at linking the company brand with employee desires. This in turn creates a strong psychological commitment that lets employees envision what’s important to them, and their growth, in tandem with the company’s forward trajectory.

Workplace spirituality can be broken into three key areas. Focus on these when painting the vision of how employees are connected to the company’s identity and future:

  1. The bigger company vision – what are you striving for? You can use your mission and vision statements to capture the hearts and minds of your employees. A company mission should provide purpose and lay out the ultimate outcome of the work your employees are doing, infusing it with a meaning beyond the everyday. Show them how the work they do will make an impact on the world. And, give them easy ways to place themselves in the bigger picture, by making sure it includes them and their work. For instance, at GuideSpark, we share our business and customer success stories widely with employees, making sure to highlight employees who contributed to the success. This is especially important for younger generations of workers, who care more about the meaning of their work than other elements.
  2. The day-to-day embodiment of your mission and values – how are people at your company getting things done? Feeling part of a community is an important part of workplace spirituality and thus key in keeping employees committed. And that sense of community comes from shared standards in how people treat one another. Don’t discount employees’ interactions with one another, and how people feel about your internal culture. Highlight values that make your company unique and share stories publicly with employees that show the values in action, from the bottom up. In short, make them meaningful and personally relevant. For example, health care provider Nebraska Medicine produces videos of how everyone in the organization provides “serious medicine, extraordinary care.” One such video showcased how a person from the laundry facilities team became an important part of a cancer patient’s care team.
  3. That all-important element of advancement – show employees over and over that the path forward for them exists. Make sure there are ways for them to develop new skills and stretch themselves. Showcase internal promotions, reinforce recognition programs, and check to ensure that they are meaningful to employees. At GuideSpark, we highlight success at weekly “Wins” meetings and facilitate continued education at conferences and online events. If you’re offering internal growth programs, be sure employees know about them, by publicizing them often and sharing their value. In order for employees to think more long term, they’ll need to see their personal growth aligned to the company’s growth.

A strong sense of workplace spirituality correlates with energized, committed employees. Lean in to the idea that one part of your job is constantly preparing your employee for their next role – but don’t miss the opportunity to help them develop a robust sense of workplace spirituality, so they’re more likely to think of that next role within your company.