Labor Day reminds me that although the unemployed would be happy with any kind of job, meaningful work is a key to employee engagement and satisfaction. Meaningful work is the difference between a job you do just for the paycheck, and the job you look forward to every day.
As Fyodor Dostoevsky said, "Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason for existence; they go stark, raving mad." Ok, maybe they won't go mad, but they certainly will be mad. Mad at their plight, at their bosses, at their companies. And angry people just don't do the best work.
That's why leaders should be doing everything they can to provide "meaningful" work. No matter how menial the work may be, it's up to the leaders to show the employees the connection between the work (the tasks and activities) and the noble purpose.
Somehow that work makes the world a better place, and leaders need to uncover this purpose, and focus the employees on it.
As I've said before, that purpose usually involves serving the customer. The work makes the world a better place by serving customers, solving customers' problems, making the customers' worlds better places. When employees focus on this, employees' worlds become better places.
So this Labor Day, commit to making every day a celebration of meaningful work, and employee engagement. Ask yourself some questions: What are you doing to provide meaningful work? How are you connecting the job tasks and activities to the grand or noble purpose?