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Making work feel meaningful for your team

Arielle Gordis
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Workplace trends

Female tech workers are more affected by industry layoffs

Female workers have been disproportionately impacted by the recent wave of layoffs across the tech industry, according to a recent Integro Accounting report. Earlier this year, analysis from found that in Europe, women accounted for 41.6% of job cuts despite making up roughly a third of the workforce. And while the number of female tech workers in the US and UK has fallen this year, the number of male employees in the sector has gone up. Some experts believe this is because female workers are more likely to be in part-time or non-technical roles, which are often the first to be cut. Others argue that the issue is in female tech workers holding more junior positions than their male colleagues, making them easier to let go. Regardless, the disproportionate number of layoffs for female tech workers may further compound the lack of female representation in the industry.

The heat is costing economies billions in productivity

Of the many economic costs of the Earth’s temperatures rising, the loss of productivity caused by heat has emerged as one of the biggest, experts say. In 2021, more than 2.5 billion hours of labor in the U.S. agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and service sectors were lost to heat exposure, according to data from The Lancet. An Atlantic Council report found that the loss of labor in 2020 as a result of heat exposure cost the U.S. economy about $100 billion, a figure projected to reach $500 billion per year by 2050. It’s worth noting that per IOPScience, the effects of extreme heat on productivity levels are unequally distributed: in poor countries, workers lose up to 5% of their pay with each scorching day, while in wealthy counties, the loss is less than 1%. Many business groups are opposed to establishing national standards, arguing that it would be too expensive to require rest, water, shade breaks and possibly the installation of air-conditioning.

The AI corner

Low-wage service jobs are the first to go due to AI

Low-wage jobs in hospitality and customer service are among the positions most likely to be eliminated by generative AI by 2030, according to a new McKinsey report. The research shows that jobs that make under $38,000 per year are 14x as likely to be eliminated by generative AI technology as other types of roles, with devices like fast food kiosks and chatbots serving as replacements. For most higher-wage jobs that require a college degree, the report found that they will likely be altered by AI, but not completely eliminated or automated. Experts explain that social and emotional skills, such as showing empathy and genuinely responding to human reactions will prove even more critical because they are the attributes of human workers that cannot be replicated by a machine or AI.

Government privacy watchdogs are already questioning Worldcoin

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, recently launched Worldcoin – a project that involves giving away cryptocurrency in exchange for creating a unique digital ID by scanning eyeballs. The goal? Building a more human economic system. The project has set up sign-up sites in various locations around the world, where people can get their faces scanned by a spherical “orb,” and it’s already received more than 2 million sign-ups. However, it’s not such a big hit among government officials – Kenya has suspended the scans, and regulators in France, Germany, and the UK have opened probes into its privacy and security. The project is not even operating in the US due to the complicated legal status of the crypto market.

Making work feel meaningful for your team


It’s often assumed that compensation is the most important factor affecting employee retention, but there’s a large body of evidence suggesting that wages play a much smaller role in employee turnover than we might think. In a recent MIT Sloan Review survey, compensation actually ranked 16th in the list of terms predicting employee turnover, and according to McKinsey research, Americans have identified meaningful work as the most important aspect of a job.. A separate McKinsey study found that 70% of employees say their personal sense of purpose is defined by their work, and when work feels meaningful, they perform better, are much more committed, and are about half as likely to look for a new job.

Unfortunately, despite its clear value and importance, only 50% of employees find meaning in their work today, per McKinsey. When so many factors influence an employee’s sense of meaning at work, it can be hard to get it all right.

So, how can you, as a manager, help make work feel meaningful for your employees?

Understand the meaning of meaning

While we often think of meaning at work as doing something that is truly bettering the lives of others, it can also manifest in many other forms. Work can feel meaningful when it involves utilizing your skills and flexing your creative muscles, and it can be when you feel like your presence truly matters – not just to the company’s goals but to others on your team. Meaning can come from opportunities to really grow and develop, feeling like your input is valued and your voice is heard, and from receiving authentic recognition for your contributions.

And sometimes, meaning from work has nothing to do with the work itself – it may be that the pay check or flexibility you receive from work enables you to enjoy the things in life that make you happy – like traveling or spending time with family. Regardless, it’s important to take a step back and understand all the different ways to make work feel meaningful in order to identify opportunities to increase your team members’ sense of fulfillment in their roles.

Build connections

A recent working paper by Brookings showed that relationships are the most important determinant of meaningfulness at work. Those who feel a strong sense of connectedness feel greater meaning from their jobs and are likely to put in more effort, according to the research. Recent Harvard Business Review research also supports these conclusions, showing that when employees feel they belong, they are 3.5x more likely to contribute to their full potential and are significantly more likely to feel connected to their work. That’s why even small efforts to build connections on your team can prove so impactful.
Schedule weekly team lunches and occasional fun group outings to help your employees connect in non-work environments.
Try starting meetings with quick icebreakers to enable teammates to get to know each other better and share some laughs together.
Create a team group chat or channel to shoutout colleagues’ achievements – big and small – in order to foster a sense of community and support.

Identify opportunities for growth

Workers are increasingly eager to see opportunities for learning, development, and advancement in their workplace. While some employees are looking for promotions, a recent study in the MIT Sloan Review suggests that many are not necessarily interested in more authority and additional responsibilities. Rather, they’re looking for new ways to feel challenged and opportunities to develop their skills. So, take the time to understand what excites each of your team members and how they want to grow and then find opportunities to take them out of their comfort zones and master those desired skills.

Give your employees a voice

When employees feel like their ideas and feedback matter, it can make work significantly more meaningful and rewarding. In fact, recent research by the Workforce Institute revealed that making employees feel heard can profoundly impact their productivity, engagement, and turnover, with highly engaged employees more than 3x as likely to say they feel heard at their workplace, and 74% of employees reporting they are more effective at their job when they feel heard. So, regularly ask for employee feedback and give your team members the chance to share their input. And then be responsive – take action when relevant and remember to follow up.

Convey impact

Help your team members understand the value of their day-to-day work – both in terms of how it supports company goals and impacts customers. At least once a quarter, take some time out of a team-wide meeting to walk through big-picture business priorities and help your employees understand how their work contributes. Additionally, when possible, share data, metrics, and customer testimonials to actually show them how their work is making a difference. Helping your team members understand the ways in which their role affects the bottom line can make the work feel all the more fulfilling.

Give recognition

One of the best ways to make work feel more meaningful for your employees? Recognizing their contributions and the value they’re bringing. Send private messages when they do something great – big or small – and create opportunities for them to showcase their impact in larger forums. Ask them to present their achievements to the rest of the team and invite more senior leadership members to sit in (if the employee is comfortable) to enable them to get the recognition they deserve. And of course, when it’s time, give relevant promotions to convey that consistently meaningful and valuable work is both recognized and rewarded.

Encourage work-life balance

As mentioned above, sometimes meaning from work comes from the fulfilling life it allows employees to live outside the office. So encourage your employees to unplug at reasonable hours, get outside and move their bodies, take vacations when they need a recharge, and really invest in the things they enjoy outside of work to ensure that they can live rich, well-rounded lives.

Water cooler chatter

Dating apps are starting to harness the power of AI. Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge, and OKCupid, has announced plans to integrate new AI features across its brands –to help build profiles and highlight why someone may be a good match. For example, sifting through a user’s photos and selecting the best five to display.

“I really think AI can help our users build better profiles in a more efficient way that really do showcase their personalities.”
Bernard Kim, Chief Executive of Match Group

China has announced draft guidelines to govern phone use of children under 18. The proposal requires device makers to set time limits on internet usage for children, and app operators to roll out different youth modes that would limit screen time and the types of content and activities minors can access.

“The big idea here is to give parents a very convenient one-button choice to turn on a child mode on their phones.”
Tom Nunlist, Associate Director at Trivium China

Question of the week

Last week’s answer: Facebook

This week’s question: How many work emails are received per day?

Just for laughs

Making work feel meaningful for your team
Arielle is a writer and storyteller currently serving as a content marketing manager at When she’s not busy writing, you can find her walking outside for hours on end or planning her next travel adventure.

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