Six small acts that ignite purpose at work

Six small acts that ignite purpose at work

Does your job feel bland and purposeless? Do you like your work but still yearn for a more meaningful existence?

I suggest messing with your job — just a tad — to ignite it with purpose.

You can help homeless families, protect the natural environment, support customers battling illness or otherwise do good from work. A little charitable rebelliousness in the workplace will brighten the world around you, as well as your day. If research is any indication, it might even make you love your job.

This practice of making a positive social impact from everyday work is called “job purposing.” Although job purposing is often a sophisticated management practice, it can also be a small act performed by any worker. Here are a few “lite” job purposing practices:

1.   Make meetings meaningful. Next time you’re in charge of introductions at a meeting, invite participants to share what charity they like and why. Not only will you learn more meaningful things about each other, you will give free publicity to charitable causes and nudge the workplace conversation away from frivolity and towards purpose.

2.    Give VIP treatment to a population experiencing hardship. A chairlift operator at Park City ski resort told me that he loved when, on certain days, his lift opened half an hour early for cancer patients. Can you offer special treatment to terminally ill children, veterans or other population experiencing challenges?

3.   Purchase purposefully. If you’re selecting the restaurant for the next holiday party, why not choose the cafe that trains underprivileged youth in culinary arts? If you’re purchasing pencils for your customer conference, why not choose “plantable pencils” that help reduce waste and make the world greener? Yes, these really exist thanks to Sprout. The point is, most purchases can be upgraded from a transaction to an act of social good.

4.   Make coffee meaningful. Invite the person at work who seems isolated or lonely to coffee. This might be the man who sits by the photocopier and seems invisible, the autistic clerk whom no one befriends or the Chinese national who barely speaks English. Your kindness might make their day… and yours.

5.   Give space to a cause. Do you have walls in public spaces that you could use to exhibit the art of handicapped artists? Can you promote a nonprofit partner through the messages on your vehicles? Think creatively about table tops, placemats, mannequins and other surfaces and spaces.

6.   Elevate the purpose of your email signature. Use your email signature to highlight a charitable cause. For example, for a full month my signature was “Did you know that, without leaving their desks, your team members can tutor underprivileged first graders in reading through the amazing TutorMate program?”

Sometimes having a good job is a matter of bringing the good to the job. There are countless ways to do such job purposing. What’s yours?

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on the post date and reposted here in January 2018 when this site launched.

Learn more about Bea's book, Do Good at Work.

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