How online emojis can teach us about the work experience

Our obsession with receiving emojis such as thumbs ups and smiley faces can also teach us a lot about the modern experience at work.

It is human nature to seek validation and our online world makes this a lot easier for us (though, as we know, it can also be a very negative forum as well.)

When we apply this need to our work today a similar premise applies. The big difference – and it is a big one – is that people want the interaction to be meaningful at work.

Employees want work to have purpose, be real and to be a place they can retreat and feel challenged but “safe” in order to thrive, an escape from superficiality.

How to create meaning at work?

As a starting point take the time to research, plan and think about what behaviours and processes you need to implement to make it happen. Garner support and experience where you need it.

First and foremost, your leaders have to become the true believers

90 per cent of senior leaders understand the importance of employee engagement but actually fewer than 50 per cent understand how to address this issue. There is certainly a bit of head in the sand stuff going on there too, I believe.

A skilled facilitator with experience in leadership and engagement themselves can be really useful at clearly demonstrating the people and business benefits. Evidence would suggest that a skilled message delivered from an outside company voice can resonate and embed more readily.

Create opportunities for growth for all your team through ongoing learning and development

Recent research by Deloitte suggests that organisations who invest highly in learning and development rate highest in retention of employees, innovation and customer service.

Learning and a “voice” to impact change creates curiosity and more meaning for people at work.

Celebrate wins

Employees seek regular recognition to remain motivated and engaged and hence enriched. There are some really great simple and easy to use online programs to reward onsite and remote workers in both small and large ways (eg Brownie points) but nothing beats communication directly.

Develop your leaders’ skills in authenticity and transparency. Leaders who are “real” are more likely to create “real” and meaningful workplaces, where purpose is evident.

The business benefits are evident too. Purpose-driven organisations have been shown to have 30 per cent higher levels of innovation and 40 per cent higher levels of employee retention over time.

Encourage and enable corporate social responsibility throughout the organisation

There is a groundswell of support for CSR (Corporate social responsibility) and with good reason.

Organisations that can demonstrate their own commitment to social causes connect with their employees more effectively and are able to more readily build a more meaningful work culture.

Customers want to know that leaders care for their people and also the greater society. There are some easy ways to invest in CSR. I particularly like Vollie, a new start-up that allows employees to volunteer time from their desks, their skills matched up with organisations with specific needs.

Lexie Wilkins, Culture and Employee-Engagement Expert and Director, Lexie Wilkins Consulting

Lexie is this year’s ISB Top 50 Small Business Leaders Report judge in WA

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