The concept

The ability to discover meaning in life and in work improves health and commitment

The key to resilience is meaning and purpose

“Organizations that focus on meaning are more successful than organizations relying solely on hierarchy and financial incentives to drive performance”. (AOK Fehlzeiten Report: 1, 2018)

By working with meaning as a management and organization tool, both leaders and employees achieve greater job satisfaction, resilience, progress and commitment both in the job and in life.

The above quote is from the annual German sickness absence report at workplaces. In 2018, the theme of the study was “meaning”.

The study question was how the employees’ perception of meaning in life and in the job affects health in the workplace, including the effect of sick leave. The report showed following result:

  • 9.4 days of sick leave pr. year when experiencing consistency between meaning in life both private and in the job
  • 19.6 days of sick leave pr. year when experiencing lack of conformity between meaning in life and meaning in the job

That is, over doubling the sick leave when there is no experience of consistency between meaning in life and meaning in the job.

Conversely, the results of the report show a markedly lower sick leave and a significantly higher degree of engagement when there is a correlation between perception of meaning in life and meaning in the job.

The results in the German report furthermore show that this relationship is also evident in job-related physical and mental complaints. If employees feel that their work is meaningful, complaints like back pain and joint pain and exhaustion are mentioned much less frequently than if this were not the case.

If employees found their work meaningful, all complaints were less frequent (back and joint pain: 34 percent, exhaustion: 33.2 percent). Conversely, if there was no experience of meaning in the work, 54.1 percent reported back and joint pain and 56.5 percent over exhaustion.

Meaning as Growth Accelerator

The ability to create, develop and operationalize meaning is the new age of understanding and science in leadership.

Leaders’ awareness of creating wealth must be expanded to include meaning. Leaders who do this can positively influence those they work with. They become better role models in relation to more sustainable behavior, resulting in a meaning oriented work culture that is ultimately more functional, adaptable and sustainable.

Meaning reflects what a person or company exists for, believes in, strives for, and takes responsibility for. It is about how leaders achieve growth both strategically, economically and socially by inspiring people’s deepest meaning, values and purposes and makes a match between the experience of meaning in life and meaning in the job.