Thumbs up and smiley faces:  How our online emojis can teach us about the work experience.


Our obsession with receiving thumbs ups and smiley faces can also teach us a lot about the modern experience at work.

It is the human nature to seek validation and our online world makes this a lot easier for us (….though as we know it can also be a very negative forum as well.)

When we apply this need to our work today a similar premise applies.

The big difference - and it is a big one - is that people want the interaction to be meaningful at work.

Employees want work to have purpose, be real and to be a place they can retreat and feel challenged but “safe” in order to thrive eg an escape from the superficially. I’ve explored this a little further in the article attached in the first comment but a few points to think about are below:

How to create meaning at work?

There are so many ways to create more meaningful workplaces – I’ve only really tipped the iceberg below. As a starting point though take the time to research, plan and think about what behaviours and processes you need to implement to make it happen. Garner support and experience where you need it.

  • First and foremost your leaders have to become the true believers!

90% of senior leaders understand the importance of employee engagement but actually fewer than 50% understand how to address this issue. There is certainly a bit of head in the sand stuff going on there too I believe.

A skilled facilitator with experience in leadership and engagement themselves can be really useful at clearly demonstrating the people and business benefits. Evidence would suggest that a skilled message delivered from an outside company voice can resonate and embed more readily.

  • Create opportunities for growth for all your team through ongoing learning and development.

Recent research by Deloitte suggests that organisations who invest highly in learning and development rate highest in retention of employees, innovation and customer service.

Learning and a “voice” to impact change creates curiosity and more meaning for people at work.

Celebrate wins

Employees seek regular recognition to remain motivated and engaged and hence enriched. There are some really great simple and easy to use online programs to reward onsite and remote workers in both small and large ways ( eg Brownie points) but nothing beats communication directly.

  • Allow your employees and leaders to explore their own values, then allow them to actively shape the organisation’s core values too.

I’ve written before about the culture and engagement wins that can be made from facilitating a values exercise with your team. The link to it here: http://bit.ly/2wmix3a

"Work that is meaningful, is often understood by people not just in the context of their work but also in the wider context of their personal life experiences.”

  • Develop your leaders’ skills in authenticity and transparency

If you haven’t received this message re modern leadership loud and clear from global thought leaders over the past 5 years, you’ve really been hiding under a rock.

Leaders who are “real” are more likely to create “real” and meaningful workplaces, where purpose is evident.

The business benefits are evident too. Purpose driven organisations have been shown to have 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of employee retention over time.

  • Encourage and enable corporate social responsibility throughout the organisation

There is a groundswell of support for CSR (Corporate social responsibility) and with good reason.

Organisations that can demonstrate their own commitment to social causes greater their own connect their employees more effectively and are able to more readily build a more meaningful work culture.

Customers want to know that leaders care for their people and also the greater society – again as becoming “real” and “thinking” groups. There are some easy ways to invest in CSR. I particularly like Vollie, a new start up that allows employees to volunteer time from their desks, their skills matched up with organisations with specific needs.

Up for the challenge? Need a hand to make this happen?

Contact Lexie: lexiewilkinsconsulting.com

"I specialise in assisting organisations to master becoming destination employers."

  1. Deloite.com/insights/issue-16/employee-engagement-strategies.html 2015

  2. Conference Board: “The engagement issue” 2014

  3. Sloane review: “What makes work meaningful – or meaningless”

  4. 4.http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0001839217713748?journalCode=asqa&


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