cover photo Reflect Blog
Ingo Kallenbach

Five central questions for more sense and motivation in the job

We all know this: At the beginning, we were enthusiastic about our work and enjoyed the tasks. However, the more everyday life and routine creep in, what once drove us recedes into the background - an often-typical course of events. Over time, we lose motivation and an eye for the importance of our own job. However, these aspects are crucial for sustained commitment and satisfaction. How can you ensure that employees (and yourself as well) rediscover or rediscover the meaning of your job? The nature of your conversation and 5 central questions are also decisive.


Why it is important to find meaning in your job

Experiencing meaning in work is one of the central intrinsic motivational factors. While in past decades and in times of Taylorism it was still predominantly a matter of satisfying physiological and social needs, in times of post-Taylorism, the knowledge society and generations Y and Z the desire to experience meaning in work increases. A recent Deloitte study also confirms that people enjoy working for a company and are loyal to it when it supports them in their careers and personal goals. The consistency of the company's objectives with what is important to a person turns out to be significant. This applies across generations and industries.

People who see meaning in their work are more motivated and more committed. In addition, the probability that the length of stay in the company increases. For you as the person in charge, this offers an opportunity in times of change to create a win-win situation for the employees and the organization.

 well-being generation y


Conversation is essential

How can you, as the person in charge, ensure that employees recognise their job as meaningful? According to the “Action Identification Theory”, there are several ways to describe an activity (Hedges, 2017). The different levels of description make it possible to formulate an action as more or less meaningful. An example: Right now I'm writing this article. At a low level, this can be described as simply typing words on the keyboard. At a higher level, however, you could say that I support you as a reader in thinking about your positive influence on your employees. Or one level higher: to better develop the potential of your employees.

Similar to this example, each activity can be viewed at a higher level. The task of managers is to give employees exactly this perspective.

Connection to the Healthy Organization

In the concept of a healthy organization, the purpose of an organization is an inherent part of the dimension of a market- and resource-oriented strategy. In this corporate dimension, too, the aim is to make the meaning and purpose of the company clear within the framework of a suitable strategy and to involve the employees accordingly. Here, too, questions can be asked that should make more sense, for example: Why do we do what we do? How do we want to be seen? What makes us special? This is an important motivating factor, especially for Generation Y, as we mentioned earlier.


Five central questions for more sense and motivation in the job

What are you particularly good at? - You can consider which actions require little effort for you, what you are particularly good at, and with which activities you have already attracted particular attention. In this way, you can identify your employee's strengths and use them to develop their potential.


What do you like to do? - Which tasks in your job do you like to do? What dates are you looking forward to? How would you do your job if you were free to decide? These questions are intended to evoke memories of why you enjoy your job and what factors make for fun at work.


What do you find most useful? - What results of your work are you particularly proud of? What are the most demanding and critical tasks of your team? Where do you set the highest priorities in your life and to what extent are they fulfilled or favoured by your work? With these questions the own, inner value and purpose of the work can be emphasized.


What makes you feel like you're making progress or moving forward? - What do you learn at work that could be useful for you in the future? How do you imagine your future and what contribution is your current work making to achieving these goals? This question stresses the importance of work for the future and thus gives it meaning.


How do you behave towards others? - Which partnerships will help you in your work? In which teams can you work best? Which people would sit in your office if you could choose? How does work improve your social relationships and how does it affect your family life? This question is intended to stimulate reflection on which social relationships, such as friendships with colleagues, also give meaning to work.



With these two approaches you have gotten to know short hints, with whose help you can promote the creation of meaningfulness in the work of others (and of course also your own). The conversation between manager and employee is central. As a manager, you can offer in-depth discussions of this kind and provide impulses; only each person can really make sense for himself or herself. In this respect, the role of the manager is that of an initiator and potential unfolder.

If you are interested in this topic or have questions, then please inform yourself further about our services in this area or simply contact us.