How VALA strives towards meaningful work
Millennials often require a lot from their work. Amongst other things, the work has to be flexible, independent and meaningful. In some ways, engineers are nowadays like millennials, even if they wouldn’t fit the age criteria. This post shares our examples of how the meaningfulness of work can be increased.
With the current market situation, engineers are in a position where they can demand quite a lot from their employers. Long gone are the days when work was work and a regular pay check was enough. The employees are now in charge. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with this. Demand and supply are rarely wrong. For companies like VALA, the over demand for engineers serves an opportunity to choose our customers and thus strive towards meaningful work.
Our vision is to be the happiest company. However, we have learned that happiness should not be the end goal. Instead, we strive for meaningfulness, and that creates happiness as a side product. Like Frank Martela said in his column in HS (25.1.2018): “Happiness is focusing on doing the things that are meaningful to you”.
We’d like to see that we are forerunners in the pursuit of meaningful work. Next, I’ll share how we do this. Feel free to comment how you do it in your company or how you think it could be done!
Image: Frank Martela’s thoughts (sorry in Finnish)
When discussing about meaningful work for our experts, only they know the answers. Thus, everything starts with discussion.
Our culture hacker Jasmiina has regular one on one discussions with each of our people. One of the many aspects in these discussions is the meaningfulness of work. With multiple questions, Jasmiina aims to find out what our people perceive as meaningful work, is it happening at the moment and how the situation could be improved. Then there’s naturally surveys where we measure the level of perceived meaningfulness of work.
The purpose of these discussions and surveys is naturally to reach for higher levels of meaningfulness but also to awaken our people to think about it. All in all, it’s relatively new to think about the meaningfulness of one’s work. By stirring up the interest towards the topic, people start to think about it and only after that can they formulate what is really important for them. For many people, there are other things that are important in work and that is totally fine. To make VALA people happy, we need to know in an individual level, who wants what.
So, what kind of actions we take to pursue meaningfulness? There are individual and company-wide aspects in this.
On an individual level, we now know what our people want. After this it’s actually pretty simple. Jasmiina keeps having her one on ones and on top of this we go through the situation of each individual in our weekly admin meetings. If someone’s individual goals are not met in the current project, we start investigating new opportunities. If someone is without a project, we naturally let them choose the best fit from the new choices available. Meaningfulness also comes from a work that is challenging enough and enables continuous learning. This part we tackle once again with appropriate projects and with a substantial personal education budget. In the limits of the personal education budget everyone can purchase courses or attend seminars or whatever they feel suitable, without asking for permission.
On the company wide level, the actions are a little different.
We are doing well financially and what would be a better way to make our people feel good about working at VALA than doing some charity here and there. Besides direct contributions, we have recently started investigating the possibility for our people to hand in their expertise for greater good. This means that when without a project, our engineers would work in pro bono projects creating solutions for companies with good causes. We already have one project like this in the scope and we aim to find more. If you have a project in mind where we could help you do good, please contact us!
Last year we asked our people to list companies that they would like to work with. Then we did our best to get these companies to our customer list. Also, when our sales team sketches prospect lists of potential customers, the companies selected have to fit our strict ethical criteria and naturally we try to pick as much companies with “a purpose” as possible. Much because of this, we have acquired many new customers from the medical, sports and wellbeing industries.
Tips for the search of meaningful work
– First and foremost, recruit people who share the company values and culture. This sets a solid basis for mutual journey, and makes the company strong.
– Discuss with everyone about their individual goals, values and sources of motivation. Meaningfulness as a shared value, makes the company even stronger
– While focusing on each individual’s needs, build your whole company towards meaningfulness.
– Discuss about meaningfulness regularly to find out what could be done better.
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