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                      Organizational Service Projects

  A lack of meaning at work and a low level of organizational identification may
be significant problems for many people.  If people could engage in tasks that
allow them to use their most important talents to make a significant contribution to
the organization, it may increase their sense of organizational identification and
experienced meaning in their work.

Task Significance and Meaning in Work

    Task significance is one variable in the job characteristics model (Hackman &
Oldham, 1976) that is proposed to influence the experienced meaningfulness of
work.  Task significance is the impact of one's work on others.  Greater perceived
meaningfulness of work has been found to be associated with greater task
significance (e.g., Johns, Xie, & Fang, 1992; Renn & Vandenberg, 1995). (1)

Organizational Identification

 Organizational identification reflects the extent to which one's sense of self is
linked to being part of the organization.  It reflects a sense of oneness with the
organization.  

Organizational Service Projects

   Just as community service projects may help us feel that we are making an
important contribution to our communities, working on project that can benefit an
organization may help us feel we are making an important contribution to the
organization.  If these organizational service projects provide us with a sense of
task significance, they may increase the perceived meaningfulness of our work.
Also, if the organizational service projects foster self-expression that is linked to
making an important contribution to the organization, it may increase a feeling of
organizational identification.
   All employees could be allowed to work on an organizational service project for
at least one hour each week.  They should be paid for this hour each week.   In
consultation with management, each employee could develop a proposal for the
project.  Below are some guidelines that could be used in selecting a project:

1.  The project could be a company social event, a training program, a
   manual, or a creative project (such as artwork for the office).

2.   The project should involve some of the employee's most important
   talents.

3.    Management should perceive that the employee has the ability to achieve the
    goals of the project.

4.    The employee should perceive the project as meaningful, challenging,
    rewarding, and a reflection of their personality.

5.    The project should be perceived by management and the employee
    as having a potential to make a significant original contribution to
    the organization.

Conclusion

    Organizations need to realize that employees may need to involve themselves in
something other than their normal job duties to feel that they are making a
significant contribution to the organization. Organizational service projects can be
viewed as one type of job enrichment.
    Organizations that utilize these organizational service projects may foster
greater task significance, job satisfaction, meaning in work, and organizational
identification.   If employees have a greater sense of job satisfaction, meaning in
work, and organizational identification, they may be more productive, happy, and
committed to the organization.
    
Notes

1.  Because these findings are correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions
from the findings.  See Bell (2007) for more information about finding meaning in
work.

References

Bell, B.  (2007).  Finding Meaning, (3rd ed.).  Portland, Oregon:
 Blue Fox Communications.
Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G. R. (1976).  Motivation though the design
 of work:  Test of a theory.  
Organizational Behavior and Human
 Performance
, 16, 250-279.
Johns, G., Xie, J. L., & Fang, Y. (1992).  Mediating and moderating effects
  in job design.
Journal of Management, 18, 657-676.
Renn, R. W., & Vanderberg, R. J. (1995).  The Critical psychological states:
  An underrepresented component in job characteristics model research.
  
Journal of Management, 21, 279-303.
PRACTICAL IDEAS