Think about the last time you were micromanaged. Did the experience make you feel inspired and purposeful? Likely not.
In fact, autonomy and empowerment are powerful motivators. Just ask Dan Ruch, CEO of Rocketrip, a two-year-old company that rewards employees for saving money on business travel. It works by paying people for doing things like flying coach instead of business class or staying with friends or family instead of booking a hotel room. It's certainly motivating-employees keep half the money they save by being frugal on behalf of an employer.
Here's Ruch's advice on how to help employees feel a sense of purpose in their work.
1. Help them see the bigger picture.
While people are hired to play specific roles within an organization, they stay because they believe in what the company stands for. When a person is focused on the day-to-day execution of his or her job, however, it can be easy to have tunnel vision and lose sight of the bigger picture. To give employees a broad perspective Ruch suggests holding monthly all-hands meetings during which people have the opportunity to discuss challenges they're facing and hear about the company's progress moving toward strategic objectives. "These company-wide meetings should be more than just a pep talk," he says. "It needs to be a forum for an honest conversation."
2. Encourage them to share what they're working on with the rest of the company.
It's easy to work with peers for years without understanding what they really do. Yet, it's motivating to be recognized by colleagues for meeting quotas, goals and objectives. So, whether it's through lunch-and-learn sessions, new product updates or cross-team training, provide opportunities for employees to talk about what they do.
3. Let them work without a purpose.
Follow Google's example and make employees work on something outside their strict scope of work for a certain percentage of their time on the clock. "We find that allowing employees that freedom and flexibility to think outside the box of what their day-to-day job is, you not only increase employee satisfaction but you also increase creativity," he says.
4. Let them try something new.
Like travel, for example. In many companies the same people do most of the traveling and burn out doing so. At the same time, plenty of other people would like to see new cities or interact with clients or colleagues in other places, but never get the opportunity. "Travel helps us learn about ourselves and it's not just when we're on leisure trips or backpacking through Europe," he says. "Business trips allow us to reflect on our professional lives in a new environment. It's an important part of business."
5. Get them involved in interviewing candidates early on in the hiring process.
Something special happens when you bring your existing employees into the interview process and have them meet face-to-face with someone considering a job with the company. "It's amazing how much employees learn about themselves by asking questions of applicants and getting to answer questions of applicants themselves about their experience at the company," he says. "It triggers a conversation about the purpose and the mission that employees are experiencing themselves."