Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

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Reinvigorate Your Job by Bringing the Community to Work With You

For most people, a day job does not spell fulfillment in the uplifted, this-is-my-purpose-in-life kinda way. In fact, your day job may be as far from your passion as you can imagine something being. But bills are inevitable, and so slogging through your daily tasks becomes a necessary evil.

It may seem like all you’re doing is propagating society so that the world can keep on spinning and sending you to and from work with it. If that sounds all too familiar, it may be time to tune into your purpose. I don’t mean your greater purpose that encompasses all you have to give the world, but rather, a deliberateness within your daily actions at work.

Finding Purpose at Work

Begin your search for purpose at work by looking at the scope of your employer. Examine what communities your employer interacts with and what role they play in each other’s existence. How does your company influence the region it’s located in? Sometimes, backing away from your role to view the company and its region as a whole system can lend insight.

If that doesn’t yield clear answers, look inside the company. Employees are dependent on their employers for livelihood, and visa versa. The two cannot survive without each other. It may be that your purpose in keeping the company functioning successfully, no matter how small or big, helps create a stable environment that provides for others.

Finally, if you’re having trouble deciphering your purpose, create your own. Find a way to positively impact those around you. If you take phone calls or send email, make it a goal to be consistently polite or to brighten someone’s day. Challenge yourself to perform a random act of kindness each day, or to complete a task that wasn’t asked of you that makes your workspace better.

Once you’ve found (or created) your purpose at work, make your environment a reminder. Hang notes for yourself in your cubicle or set a reminder on your computer. Focusing on the positive  aspects can make work more fulfilling, even if nothing has changed outside of you.

Improving Cultural Awareness

Wittingly or not, every business has it’s own culture. It may be intentionally cultivated or obliviously neglected, but it’s there, and it impacts employees from the top to the bottom.

For some employees, the culture may directly clash with beliefs they hold or lifestyle choices they make. While individuals would ideally be able to take workplace culture into account when considering places of employment, that’s not always possible. As such, no employee should feel uncomfortable or ostracized in a place where they spend a large portion of their time.

Cultural awareness is key to understanding how parties are affected. Examine the types of behavior and attitudes encouraged through company policies, as well as denoted by day-to-day interactions. Decide if these are values the business wants to uphold and promote, and make plans accordingly.

Committees may be formed to promote positive workplace culture. They might function by planning interoffice activities designed to foster community, or they may be in charge of creating a set of guidelines for culture within the workplace. Many organizations have facilitated shifts in their internal culture, and there’s no shortage of examples of positive cultural practices.

It may be intimidating to bring up workplace culture; if you feel your place of employment has a negative culture, it might not be received well. However, science is on your side, and studies have shown that happy, engaged employees are better for business. Culture can dictate an employee’s sense of inclusion and engagement.

Connecting With Local Causes

One tangible way to improve culture and sense of purpose is to create opportunities for community involvement.

If you’re seeking a top-down approach, explore your company’s plan for corporate social responsibility (CSR), if they have one. CSR involves examining the impact a business has on it’s social or economic environment. The goal should be that both the company and the community benefit from the actions of the business.

CSR can be a daunting problem to tackle, though, and there are many smaller ways a business can involve the community.

  • Local charities, schools, and shelters need supplies all year, but donation drives are often only held around the beginning of school or during the holidays. Reach out to local organizations to find out what supplies can be collected and hold an interoffice supply drive.
  • Encourage your employer to donate time or money to a fundraising event. Charity organizations may put on events that require volunteers to run successfully, and a group of coworkers could volunteer for shifts together.
  • Sponsor a local team or race. Youth sports teams often petition businesses to sponsor them and help cover the costs of season participation in exchange for advertising. Many races or community competitions will operate in a similar way, trading race entries and various levels of advertising for monetary donations.
  • Commit to sourcing supplies from local businesses instead of through big-box chains. Local retailers may be willing to give you a discount on bulk orders, and you likely won’t have to worry about shipping costs.

Meet with your supervisors to find out what options are feasible for your workplace. It may be helpful to recruit coworkers to go with you to the meeting, as more people will be a sign of interest. Plus, you’ll have people to help you when you’re ready to start organizing changes!

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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