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Author: Valtteri Karjula, Working life explorer

Author: Valtteri Karjula, Working life explorer

In this blog entry I am not going to speak as a professional of wellbeing at work—instead, I am going reflect on the meaningfulness of work as a part of daily wellbeing at work. When we divide the expression wellbeing at work into three parts, we can think about what these parts tell us.

Meaningful work

Is your work meaningful? Meaningful to whom? In a working life tied to a certain time and place it is easy to feel your work is meaningful, at least if you happen to be a police officer, a firefighter, or a doctor. In that case the meaning of work manifests in a concrete way in saving or helping someone. Similarly, a house built by a construction worker is remarkably meaningful as a whole both for the builders and those moving into the house.

The meaningfulness of work is the key to satisfaction and wellbeing at work and to maintaining the inner motivation of employees. I experience the meaningfulness of my work through inspiring projects, the feedback I receive, and the goals I have to reach. When I have the chance to do what I do well I get results, and I have the feeling that I am moving forward. The more I learn to believe in my product or what I do in general the more meaning my work has for me.

Today work that isn’t tied to a time and place has transformed the nature of working life. The challenge of information work is to feel that one’s work is meaningful, because it is not as concrete as the aforementioned building a house. At the same time appreciating and bringing forth the individual has increased in our culture, which also increases the pressure for employees to feel that their work is meaningful. We should remember that one bad day per week does not make your job worthless.

Customers give meaning well

Many entrepreneurs and salespersons can feel that their work is highly meaningful because they work with customers every day. I see this to bear great value in the employee’s own wellbeing at work, since it is precisely the work done with a customer that answers to the question of why a certain job exists. A customer’s need and the solution found together are the best ways to experience meaningfulness at work.

The most important sector regarding wellbeing at work is interaction. If interaction does not work well inside the organization, it has an immediate negative effect on people. Organizations that have managed to create a business culture where people have the courage to bring up both positive and negative issues will continue to do well. The quality of general interaction is reflected in leadership and also the business culture that functions through it. An open culture cultivates honest interaction, and, consequently, individuals don’t have to undermine their own wellbeing at work by keeping things to themselves.

Put your own wellbeing first

Feeling that your work is meaningful is ultimately visible as a part of better individual wellbeing. Better mood and energy release more resources for the individual to take care of one’s basic needs. These needs include such basic things as diet, sleep, and exercise.

It is often said in reference to unpleasant things that “you get used to it”, but at the same time we could use this saying in a positive sense. If the individual and in that way the whole community realize the ways that give tools for better wellbeing at work, we start to get used to doing things that benefit us. This inevitably leads to a spiral of success!

During the coming Christmas holiday I’m going to invest in my own wellbeing at work by resting and spending time with my family. I also count sports as rest, and I plan to do some sports in the midst of all the eating. I think that all these truly meaningful things in life that you experience in your free time create the basis for wellbeing for the coming year. Especially since I myself can’t separate my professional self and personal self.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a meaningful new year — I will continue writing some day, in January.