Want to inspire your employees to perform at levels you've never imagined?

In Give and Take, Adam Grant says that when people find purpose in their work it will not only improve that person's happiness, it will boost productivity.

Give the people what they want -- purpose.

One way to give them that purpose, according to Grant, is to give employees the chance to connect with and meet the people they are serving.

In one research cited by Grant, three groups of employees in a university fund-raising call center were tasked to call donors to ask for contributions. One of those groups read personal stories from scholarship recipients, and how those scholarships had changed their lives. Turns out that group increased their fund-raising by 143 percent versus the other groups who just made fundraising calls as part of their duties.

Grant takes it a step further: When these same fund-raisers were given the opportunity to meet a scholarship recipient, and ask them questions for as little as five minutes, their fund-raising went up by more than 400 percent!

Grant's conclusion? Having employees meet the very people they are helping is the greatest motivator, even if limited to a few minutes.

Employers have a competitive edge when they can give their people access to customers so they can see firsthand the human impact their work makes.

Give their work meaning.

When employees feel and know that they are making a difference in the world through the work they do--whether they're designing apps or laying down asphalt, it increases their motivation to perform.

Amy Wrzesniewski of Yale University concluded that one-third of all people in her research, from occupations as varied as teachers, doctors, librarians, engineers, and secretaries, viewed their work as a "calling."

They reported feeling both happier and healthier because they were able to connect to the deeper meaning of their work, and how their work ties into the mission, big picture or BHAGs.

Managers, think about it.

We spend at least one-third of our lives--ten, twelve, sometimes fourteen hours per day at work. A job should be more than just a paycheck. Doesn't it make way more sense to connect your employees' work to meaning--to allow every one of them to touch the mission, no matter how small the task? As a manager at every level of the organization, it should be your job to help your people find that meaning.

How do you give your work meaning? Leave a comment.