There are many factors that impact employee engagement, including how connected they feel to the company mission and strategy. In fact, a recent study suggests that when people believe they are essential to an organisation, they are happier at work. In other words, people who hold a “linchpin” position are more engaged and fulfilled.
According to the study authors:
“A core linchpin position is one that offers critical, irreplaceable resources — that is, without these resources an organization could not achieve its primary goals and mission. A law firm cannot provide legal services without lawyers, for example, but a tech company could continue to operate for a long time without a general counsel.”
This research emphasizes the belief that modern employees — millennials in particular — are driven by purpose, and that happy workers are more engaged than unhappy workers. However, not every role can be core to the organisation, so what it comes down to is helping each employee understand why their job is important.
Another approach is to empower employees to make themselves an organisational linchpin, through passion, persistence and hard work. In fact, author and business luminary Seth Godin outlined this principle in his book “Linchpin,” where he discusses the difference between a job and real, purpose-driven work. A job is simply doing what you’re told. It may require skill, but ultimately, anyone can do “the job.” The job becomes purposeful work when it is self-directed, autonomous, and impactful for the entire organisation.
Godin also warns against the eternal search for the perfect “job” to match the passion.
“Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.”
When framed this way, the employee becomes responsible for their own connection to their work as well as their value within an organisation. For the organisation, the responsibility is to reinforce the passionate commitment of its employees, empower them with opportunities to learn and grow, and challenge them with meaningful work.