How to Increase Wellbeing through Meaning


How to Increase Wellbeing through Meaning

An unnamed telemarketing company had 400% turnover. That’s bad.

The underlying purpose of the company, however, was good.  The telemarketers were asking alumni for donations to fund scholarships for students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to attend university, something that they knew mattered and was important. The problem, they realised, was that their telemarketers were so disconnected from this outcome that they saw their job as “harassing people for money”. Not so inspiring.

They tried something novel. They invited a beneficiary student to come in during one of the lunch breaks and talk to a team of telemarketers. She told them about her experience at University so far, and how she wouldn’t have had the opportunity without them.

Over the next month that team increased their received donations by 17% and spent 142% more time on the phones!

Something seemed to be working. More beneficiary students were invited in over lunch, and month on month each team had an opportunity to meet them. The telemarketers now said that they felt they were “helping people to have the opportunity to go to university” and “changing lives for students”. Weekly revenue went up 400%, turnover went dramatically down. How are these results possible without paying £1 more as motivation?1

Economist and author Dan Pink is famous for his theory and ted talk on intrinsic motivation stating that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the fundamental drivers to human behaviour, and have a stronger effect on our actions and results than extrinsic motivation (i.e. monetary reward). He argues that intrinsic motivation, with purpose as a key component, are what drive people to get up in the morning, create, persevere, volunteer. We can get more out of people and increase happiness and wellbeing by supporting these intrinsic motivations.

If we know the priceless value of helping people and employees feel purpose and tap into their intrinsic motivations, why are UK engagement rates still so low? Why are we struggling to empower people to find meaning in their work? Do we lack the knowledge or tools to do it?

I would argue that we know the answer, we’re just not prioritising it. At a cost of 6bn2 to the UK economy, it’s time to step up.

At Bailey & French we are passionate about creating practical tools and programmes that empower people and organisations to explore meaning and increase engagement and productivity at work. Our interventions are easy to apply, high impact and accessible for all people.

Our solutions include consultancy, programme design, facilitation of workshops in person or online through to train the trainer options and self-facilitating tools.

We will be speaking at the CIPD Wellbeing Conference on June 19th, and in the lead up we are publishing a series of articles addressing different aspects of wellbeing. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work with individuals, teams and whole organisations to be more engaged, successful and positive, we’d love to hear from you.

Jackie Todd


1 Harvard Business Review, Managing Collaborative Overload, Adam Grant & Rob Rebele:

2 HR Magazine, Disengaged employees and poor health cost UK economy 6billion

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