Meaning and purpose. It’s critical to employee engagement and productivity and it’s also what everyone wants in their work. Last week, the informal (highly un-scientific) poll on the GloboBlog showed that 53% of people are happiest at work when they know their work has contributed to a meaningful goal. Another 40% are happiest when someone appreciates their work – another form of showing meaning. (It’s also interesting to note that not a single person said they’re happiest at work when they get paid.)

Critical to meaning and purpose is having a sense of alignment — understanding your company’s objectives and values so well, you know the work you do contributes to those objectives and the values are in agreement with your own personal ones.

So what’s the problem? Ann Bares wrote about it well on her Compensation Force blog, based on recent Hewitt research.

“The large majority (73%) indicate that goals are somewhat aligned, that corporate goals are communicated and then left to local managers to translate. So for most employees, it all rests on effective coaching and direction from the local manager. … And how’s that working for us?”

As I pointed out in my comment to Ann’s post, the Corporate Executive Board found:

“Simply put, almost two-thirds of all employees are 33% as productive as they can be because they don’t understand what they are now asked to do.”

Unbelievable! 64% of employees are not working to full effectiveness, not because they don’t WANT to, but because they don’t know HOW to.

They don’t know or fully understand your strategic objectives (which likely changed due to the recession), don’t know how this affects their personal jobs/functions, and don’t know what they should be changing. Even more frightening, they don’t know that they should even be thinking about this.

And you lose out. Tremendously.

If you’re going to improve your business results, then you must get all of your employees aligned with your changing/changed business strategies. One of the most effective and positive methods for creating alignment is through strategic recognition. These highly structured programs communicate clearly through positive reinforcement the desired changes you need your employees to make in their everyday work and focus to achieve your new objectives.

What are you doing to create alignment?

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