The 6 Dimensions of Office Wellbeing: #5 Meaning

Brands have been an emphasis for much of the past century.  One of the reasons is brands communicate meaning to consumers, creating a sense of loyalty and trust. These values are just as important - maybe even more important - to cultivate with employees. As part of our series on office wellbeing, the article below from Steelcase addresses the fifth dimension of wellbeing, meaning. You'll learn how organizations can communicate a sense of meaning to employees. This culture inspires workers to be passionate about what they do and can improve performance and results.  We'll also share some tips and design considerations that helps cultivate a sense of meaning in the workplace.


People need to use their strengths, understand their impact and see how they contribute to organizational goals. Edward Diener, nicknamed “Dr. Happiness” and a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, distinguished that the so-called “calling orientation,” in which people are passionate about what they do, is intrinsically the most rewarding.

A sense of purpose helps build a resilient enterprise based on trust and collaboration. It infuses “yes power” throughout an organization, says Nicholas de Benoist, who collaborated with others in Steelcase’s exploration.

“Beliefs are the rituals of the everyday that a community shares,” he notes. “In the best cases, a person’s sense of meaning in life and the purpose of the company are compatible and augment each other. When people around us believe the same things as we do and work toward similar things in the same space, it creates a sense of harmony in context.”

“Brand isn’t just for the client,” says Beatriz Arantes, a Steelcase WorkSpace Futures researcher. “The brand is also for the people inside the company to have a meaningful understanding of what the brand stands for and be mindful of it in their everyday work.

“Without shared understanding of what you want to accomplish, it’s hard to get people aligned on what their goals are and how to get there. People need meaning in order to know that their work is not going to waste. It’s possible for even a large body of people to move quickly if they’re aligned on the same goal and meaning.”

Cultivating meaning in the workplace

“How we spend our time, doing the right things in the right way, can powerfully impact wellbeing,” says Arantes. “Spaces that are intentionally designed to help people accomplish meaningful goals can make a tremendous difference in individual performance and overall organizational results.”

Design Considerations:

  • Include spaces beyond the lobby that reinforce the brand, purpose, history and culture of the company.
  • Leverage vertical real estate to make thinking and progress visible.
  • Use technology to display real-time information.
  • Create an ecosystem of spaces that give people choices and empower them to work productively alone or together.

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