Overestimating Value of Organization-Wide Goals: Agency leaders tend to overestimate how much their employees find purpose in company-level goals such as generating profits.

Finding purpose at work is not just about doing good in the world, but it is also about connecting the work an individual does to the success of the team and company. We need to help workers identify with the place they work and feel proud of what they are doing every day.

Lack of Capacity: Frontline staff working in public employment programs may feel like they are barely keeping up with basic requirements of case management and will not be able to include purpose and meaning into program interactions with clients.

Implementing purpose and meaning concepts like ikigai into your delivery system may require you to “serve” fewer people overall, but increase the depth of service to those enrolled.

Overstated Company Mission: Executive leadership tend to exaggerate societal impact in an attempt to engage employees, which can feel disingenuous and full of platitudes (thus having the opposite effect).

Organizations do not need to change their purpose (or create a new mythology around how they’re making the world a better place) to engage employees. In fact, honesty and alignment between the company’s actions and stated values are more important. Research shows that individuals can gain a sense of meaning from many different things, including having a positive impact on the customer (e.g., making life easier or offering a better product to the market) and a sense of belonging within their team.