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An Action Plan

A CEO's tips for building a meaningful work culture.


A man is standing in front of arrows pointing in different directions.

While the concept of meaningful work is universal, the specifics of what it looks like are unique to each individual.

Therefore, it's critical for leaders to get to know people on an individual level, advises Sylvia Melena, founder and CEO of Melena Consulting Group, a consulting and training company based in San Diego. Once they've done so, leaders should keep these tips in mind for building a meaningful work culture:

  • Help employees make a connection between the job they do and the organization's mission and vision.
  • Focus on how the work impacts people, not just on widgets, goals and money.
  • Eliminate micromanagement. Instead, empower employees to deliver excellence.
  • Find ways to break up role monotony.
  • Get input from employees about the work they do.
  • Above all, equip managers and supervisors to build strong relationships with their employees. This is the key to understanding what makes work meaningful to each person.

Creating meaningful work starts at the top, Melena adds. "The C-suite and human resources executives must focus on building the leadership muscles of their front-line managers and supervisors, as they have the power to create a sense of meaning for employees," she says. "Strong leadership is the key to creating great workplaces."

To read more about meaningful work, see The Search for Meaning from SHRM's All Things Work newsletter.

Brian O'Connell is a Bucks County, Pa.-based freelance business writer.

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