What Successful Companies Offer Meaningful Work?

meaningful work, meaningful jobs

Duane Hixon, the CEO of N2 Publishing, said, “Profit is necessary, but it is not the goal. We need air and water to survive, but that isn’t our purpose. Our purpose is to help people live better lives.” That sounds noble, but doesn’t every company say that they care about people, their employees, and customers? How do we know if it is true? Isn’t it a company’s obligation to the shareholders to maximize profits?

Can a company be successful without an unconditional focus on the bottom line? The answer is yes. A company can do both: generate strong profits and do it in a way that benefits its employees and customers in a humanly responsible way.

When we think of meaningful work, we often associate it with meaningful jobs, or more specifically, with the products manufactured by the organization or the services provided by its employees. In 2015, Business Insider published a list of the 30 most meaningful companies to work for in America. The top five were: AbbVie, Biogen, Becton Dickinson (BD), Medtronic, and Celgene. What do they all have in common? All of them are in the biomedical field.

AbbVie develops therapies and innovations in immunology, oncology, neuroscience, and virology. Biogen delivers therapies for people living with serious neurological and neurodegenerative diseases and related therapeutic adjacencies. BD provides a long list of solutions, such as advancement in medical research and genomics, enhanced diagnostics of infectious disease and cancer, improvement in medication management, and many others.

Medtronic is one of the largest medical device companies in the world. Its co-founder, Earl E. Bakken, invented the first battery-powered pacemaker in the late 1950s. Celgene, which has recently become a part of the global biopharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, works on developing medicines for patients with a wide range of debilitating and chronic diseases. All of these five companies and more than half of 30 companies on the Business Insider list are in the biomedical field where they are committed to solving the world’s greatest health needs. That is meaningful. No one can argue with that.

The results of the jobs at AbbVie, Biogen, BD, Medtronic, and Celgene are truly meaningful, but what about the work itself. While meaningful work connects the day-to-day responsibilities with a greater company mission, meaningful work has more to do with leadership and creating a shared purpose between an employer and employees than purely with the product or service the company offers. A human-focused environment formed on trust, respect, recognition, gratitude and autonomy creates meaningful work.

N2 Publishing is not a biomedical company. N2 is a media franchise, and its members produce custom publications for local communities. The company has been able to meet the profitability demands and create a culture of camaraderie, leadership, fairness, rewards, and career opportunities, which are all elements of an organization that supports meaningful work.

Is it possible to generate strong profits and do it in a way that benefits employees and customers in a humanly responsible manner? N2 proves that the answer is yes. N2 has been recognized as the fastest growing franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine after experiencing a three-year growth rate of 220%. At the same time, they were recognized as one of the best places to work at by Inc Magazine. As Michael O’Malley, Ph.D., the author of Organizations for People, says, we should insist that “leaders foster human potential and support human flourishing as obligations of their roles.”

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