What if the year 2021 was the year of the reason to be at work? The current crisis has changed our relationship with work, its place in our lives and the meaning we give it. The HRDs have understood this! That's why they are increasingly interested in ikigai, a Japanese philosophical concept that helps people find meaning in their lives. HR managers see it as an effective tool to reconcile performance and well-being at work. How can ikigai help you achieve this? How to implement this tool in your company? We tell you everything in this article!

1. 2021, the year of the quest for inner well-being?

Companies are already displaying their reason for existence

The "reason for existence" is likely to become a common theme throughout the year 2021, as our lives are being shaken up by the health crisis. However, this crisis is only accelerating an already existing trend. Indeed, since May 2019, companies can incorporate a raison d'être into their bylaws. "The raison d'être designates an ambition of general interest that the leaders intend to pursue. This is the case, for example, of the distribution group Carrefour, which has decided to include the issue of the "food transition for all" in its statutes." If companies give themselves a raison d'être, it is also to meet the expectations of their customers but also of their internal teams who are increasingly looking for meaning at work. 

Reason for existence: the number one quest of your employees in 2021?

According to a recent study by Apec, all executives pay particular attention to this quest: "51% of executives consider it "very important" to have a meaningful job. It is also fundamental for them to feel useful to the company (52%) and to continue learning new things (56%)." 

As a result, companies today are placing more and more importance on this demand. They have understood that in order for employees to feel good about their missions and their professional environment, they need to bring meaning to it. The job must also be in line with the employee's deepest aspirations. This is the sine qua non condition for better performance and to guarantee a good level of team commitment.

2. Ikigai: a Japanese philosophy to find one's reason for being

An ancestral Japanese philosophy adapted to today's working world

How can you support your employees in this quest for meaning? Ikigai could be one of the answers. This Japanese philosophy is a subtle blend of passion, vocation, profession and mission. The goal of ikigai is to find the balance between what you love to do, what you are good at and what you are paid to do in order to meet the needs of our world. For Christie Vanbremeersch, author of the book "Finding Your Ikigai" (First Publishing), "Finding your ikigai is about finding work that you love, that makes sense, that you do well, and for which you receive a decent contribution."

Accompanying employees toward ikigai

As HR, how can you help your employees find this balance?

There is no single method. It is primarily a matter of introspection. However, you can invite them to draw circles and answer the following questions: "What do I like to do in life? What am I good at or recognized as an expert in? What do I need to live for on a daily basis financially? Why does the world need me and how can I contribute to the greater good?" You can also structure this reflection with the following steps:

  • Step 1 - Take stock of their desires: what do they really like to do?
  • Step 2 - Clarify their career goals: where do they want to go?
  • Step 3 - Highlight their skills: what are their strengths 

Once employees have answered these questions, you will be able to identify the jobs within the company that correspond to them. This initial reflection will help them in their quest and will give you interesting leads to explore over time.

What about the HR ikigai?

As we have seen above, companies also have their raison d'être. Therefore, in order for your HR strategy and actions to be in perfect harmony with the company's raison d'être, we recommend that you find the HR ikigai. To achieve this, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do your employees value most about the company?
  • What is the reason for the company? What is the company's reason for being? What makes it different from other organizations?
  • What is optimal from a financial point of view?
  • What does the world need and how does the company meet it?

3. Ikigai: a response adapted to HR issues

Fighting against burn out and boredom

"The resurgence of burn out and boredom testifies to the need to reinvent our ways of working by putting the human being back at the center of our concerns," says APEC. Burn out is a professional exhaustion linked to an overload of activity. Bore out, on the other hand, is linked to a lack of intellectual stimulation in a job that is perceived as boring or useless and where the employee ends up devaluing himself. 

Consequently, an executive who no longer finds usefulness in his work will be absent more often, will disengage from his missions and can more easily suffer from one of these two disorders. Conversely, happy employees will be more motivated, more productive in their missions and will remain committed to their company. Giving meaning back to one's work has a positive impact on talent retention and therefore on recruitment.

Retain high potentials

Companies need to innovate constantly. In order to remain competitive in their market, they need to stay ahead of the game. To achieve this, they need to mobilize the full intellectual capacity of their high-potential employees. They have the intellectual agility necessary to bring the innovation that the company needs. These high-potential profiles are at the heart of human resources' concerns because of the importance of their contribution. However, these profiles, which often hide precocious or gifted personalities, need even more than others to contribute to the world through their work. 

The ikigai allows these talents to flourish in the company by using their extraordinary skills to achieve a goal that is valuable to them.

Happy employees at work: benefits for the company in figures

Employees who feel good about themselves are a benefit to the company. Being happy increases productivity by almost 12%. According to a study conducted by the Chapman Institute in 2005, expenses related to employee health problems can be reduced by up to 25% when employees feel good about themselves!

If the year 2021 is also the year of purpose in your company, if you want to keep your teams motivated and committed in a context where lassitude is threatening the teams, ikigai is a method to be implemented without further delay!