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The importance of meaningful work

Feb 18, 2021

With spring just around the corner and vaccinations on the rise, everything seems more hopeful. Now is the time to reinvigorate your team and get them to engage in their work in a meaningful way, says Anna O’Flanagan.

We’ve made it through a long winter, and while it may not feel like it yet, spring is just around the corner. Some team members may be coming out of hibernation and engaging more. Others have perhaps fallen off the radar altogether. This third lockdown has been rough, so people will be reacting differently as we ease out of it over the next few months.

Regardless of where your team members land, in order to bring the whole team together, leaders will need to encourage engagement over the next few months.

According to The Progress Principle, which promotes creating meaning in our everyday work lives, we need to find ways of working that foster progress while also improving our work life on a daily basis. Strangely, these two things are not mutually exclusive.

Creating meaningful work

So, how do we create work that has meaning?

Set goals and KPIs

Setting clear goals and having ways to measure and mark milestones is an excellent place to start. This will help your team to understand the ‘why’ of their work. They will start to recognise the benefits of the work being achieved and will become fully aware when a goal is reached.

Prioritise and collaborate

If a project is deemed critical to your organisation, demonstrate its importance by clearing the decks and relieving the team of other responsibilities for now. Progress is also more visible and rewarding when teams are given the opportunity to collaborate on parts of their work.

Give acknowledgement

Remember to recognise all contributions to a project and acknowledge each milestone as it is reached. This gives clarity and purpose, helping people connect to the shared vision and experience and giving them the drive to continue.


Finally, when all the hard work is done, even on a short-term project, it needs to be celebrated. Enrich your team and keep them focused by recognising all achievements and setting time for “events” that uplift them. There doesn’t need to be a big party, but time does need to be allocated for this to happen in a thoughtful and authentic way.

So, how about setting some time aside this week to figure out with your team how and when they would like to be recognised and celebrated? Make their work meaningful and it will be worth the investment.

Anna O’Flanagan is Founder and Chief Squirrel at Red Squirrel Team Building.