In our previous article, we talked about the toll that meaningless work can have on employees. The stress of doing a meaningless job is enough to shun the best talent from the team which can be a big problem for companies. In order to boost employee engagement at the workplace, an easy way is to first look to eliminate the meaningless work that your team engages in.
David Graeber, a professor at the London School of Economics and author of “Bullshit Jobs: A Theory,” came up with 5 types of meaningless roles that can commonly be found in the workplace.
Leadership Strategies That Help Eliminate BS Jobs
The reality may not be as dire as the one painted by Graeber, while roles may not actually be meaningless, he does raise a light to the times when we had to do meaningless work for the sake of it.
Looking at the 5 roles as stated by Graeber, we’ve boiled down these jobs to its essence and came up with solutions to address the common characteristics of meaningless work. Here’s the 3 ways leaders can effectively eliminate meaningless work and boost Employee engagement
1. Promote a Problem Solving Mindset in the Workplace
A common characteristic found in meaningless roles is how little input individuals are encouraged to have. Due to the lack of expectation for them to bring value in problem solving, employee engagement is lowered as people play the passive role of a deliverer.
To combat this, leaders should encourage their team to have a problem solving mindset and promote a solution oriented culture. Being solution oriented as opposed to problem oriented means you’re encouraging your team to add value and bring more to the table. Instead of reporting a problem has occurred which renders little value to the process, a solution oriented mindset is one that attempts to tackle the problem, which provides employees with a greater sense of purpose in their work.
2. Effective Leadership Management Equals Communicating Purpose
In the case of employees who may feel like they are doing meaningless work, it may be due to a lack of understanding in the bigger picture. Therefore, it is the role of the an effective leader to communicate the value and purpose of their work as a means to engage them in their work.
An effective leadership management strategy looks a lot like a mentor-ship where leaders attentively help develop and grow people under their wing. According to a survey by Colorado Technical University, 75% of people agree that mentoring plays a key role in their career. Further to promoting a problem solving mindset, leadership management means providing employees with the vision and practical guidance. By properly communicating the higher purpose of the team and of individuals, employees can aspire to improve and rise above their defined role.
3. Introducing Workplace Flexibility and Constructive Deviance
The truth is in the numbers, workplace flexibility is instrumental to the engagement of employees. An example is in Deloitte’s $41.5 million cost savings alone from retaining employees who would have left if they did not have a flexible work arrangement. In fact 70% managers and 87% employees who reported on “a positive” or “very positive” impact on their productivity due to flexible work arrangement.
Allowing for constructive deviance is another way to motivate employees. Subsequent to providing employees with the opportunities and a problem solving mindset, by giving employees the adequate freedom and an open work culture to try and experiment, they’re able to solve problems in more effective ways.
For example, instead of completing a task in-house and trying to cram more work into the same number of hours, an alternative way to solve the problem may be to outsource part of the work to professional. This alternative approach to problem solving is only possible when the company culture is open, allowing employees to think outside the box of company conventions.
Best Leadership Strategy is in Hiring “Good People”
At a time when talent is scarce, it is crucial that businesses learn to engage employees in the right way. As depicted by Anthony Tjan, CEO of Boston venture capital firm Cue Ball Group, author of the book “Good People”, a company’s success is predicated on the right talent. The right talent being good people who are defined as “those committed to continuously cultivating the values that help them and others become the fullest possible versions of who they are.”
In truth, it is rarely the case that everyone in the team naturally demonstrates all these characteristics, thus it’s important that as a leader we encourage an environment that guides and motivates people to be aspire for greater and perform to the fullest of their potential. Perhaps the best of these would be the constructive rebels who doesn’t only challenge themselves but also those around them to add value in their work.
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