Ikigai in Action: How to Create a Workplace Culture That Empowers Employees

CoachHub · 26 January 2023 · 6 min read

The word “Ikigai” may be unknown to a lot of people, although the guiding principles surrounding it is one that has been around for decades. Few people have had to ask themselves the question, “what does ikigai mean?” It’s surreal to imagine that participating in many different hobbies or career paths could hold the key to discovering one’s purpose and finding meaning in life.

A fundamental part of the human experience is the journey to discover the reason for existence, finding one’s purpose and creating joy for oneself. A lot of people spend their entire lives searching for joy without ever finding it. Some others just go through the motions without deriving any sort of true happiness from their lives. Ikigai offers a way out.

ikigai in action

What is the ikigai concept?

Ikigai is a centuries old Japanese philosophy which guides the way most Japanese people see life. A lot of them believe that their ikigai is responsible for the joy derived from life. It is also believed that ikigai is the secret to long life. With all these positive advantages that could come out of ikigai, it comes as no surprise that many parts of western society have begun incorporating ikigai into their lives and work culture.

In the workplace, it is especially essential that employees experience a sense of purpose and passion for their jobs. Much like every other endeavor in life, the work environment comes with its challenges. Sometimes, the only thing that stops people from giving up is their passion and sense of purpose. The feeling of knowing that you have a goal can help to increase productivity and foster dedication or engagement in the workplace.

In this article, we shall discuss the basics of ikigai and how it can manifest itself in the workplace, as well as how to help people find their purpose with their jobs.

ikigai chart

Understanding ikigai

What is ikigai?

As established earlier, ikigai is of Japanese origin. Simply put, it is a person’s reason for existing. “Iki” means life while “gai” refers to a person’s value or worth. The ikigai is where a person’s peace, purpose or joy lies. It is that thing that creates joy and makes it easy for a person to continue to live everyday.

Japanese ikigai is more focused on discovering joy and peace. However, in western work culture, ikigai is used to help people find their passion in their careers. It is also used to help people discover their dream career paths.

At the basic level, the ikigai has four major components that are applicable to both the Japanese origins and the western work environment.

What you love

Part of what forms your ikigai is discovering something that you like doing in the workplace. It doesn’t matter what kind of task it is, as long as it is something that you would be happy to do anytime. Your ikigai should be that thing that improves your mood anytime you talk about it. It should evoke a feeling of excitement when you are presented with the chance to engage in it.

What you are good at

A good way of finding your ikigai is figuring out the things you are good at. It is incredibly difficult to find joy or peace if you constantly engage in things you are bad at. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from performing tasks that you can do effortlessly. When you do something that you are good at, the effortlessness of the process increases your dopamine levels. You are less likely to get frustrated or give up. Doing something that you are good at creates more avenues for self fulfillment.

What you can be paid for

Finding your ikigai in the workplace becomes easy when you do things that you are good at and will be paid for. Human beings need to earn money to survive and take care of their daily needs. The presence of a constant source of income creates a sense of peace and wellbeing. Your ikigai comes more easily when you are doing something you love that brings income. When you get paid for doing something you are good at, you are more likely to experience joy. In the workplace, this increases productivity and overall morale of employees.

What the world needs

The last component of finding your ikigai is performing activities that the world needs. Doing something that contributes to the world around us does wonders for our ikigai. There is a feeling of accomplishment that stems from satisfying the needs of people around us. One reason why many are unhappy in life is because they do not feel like the things they do have value. Knowing that your job directly or indirectly affects the people around you positively brings you a step closer to discovering your ikigai.

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Ikigai in the workplace

Many employers tend to think that the needs of their employees are not directly beneficial to the goals of the company. When the employee’s needs may seem contrary to the goals of the organization, people are more likely to be assigned to roles that aren’t aligned with their strengths. This results in a situation where people’s abilities are not optimized, creating an environment where employees are dissatisfied. When this happens, productivity is greatly reduced.

A work environment where the abilities and needs of employees are aligned with their tasks in the company creates a greater sense of purpose all round. As seen in the four components of ikigai, doing what you love and are good at while getting paid for it creates more joy and satisfaction among people. A situation where employees feel satisfied with the quality of their work and pay creates higher levels of productivity. It is essential that employers are aware of their employees strengths when delegating responsibilities. This improves the overall mental well-being of the workers in the company.

When employees are aligned with their ikigai, there are higher chances of increased engagement and dedication to tasks. This makes it easier for the company’s goals to be achieved.

Digital coaching as a tool for discovering and aligning with ikigai

Digital coaching has become increasingly popular in helping managers acquire skills for the workplace. When it comes to helping employees discover their ikigai, digital coaching can assist employers to figure out better ways of delegating responsibilities to optimize the skills of employees.

Digital coaching can also help the employees discover their purpose and better use their abilities to create a better working experience for themselves. There are few things as satisfying as doing a job you love and are good at. Digital coaching ensures that you are more equipped to find your passion and channel it towards your job.

Digital coaching has several advantages for a company that uses the services. Scalability and flexibility is increased, thereby improving the quality of work across all departments in an organization.


Creating a purpose-driven workplace culture

Leadership has a very important role to play in improving the outlook of employees on their jobs. Leaders need to be able to communicate properly with employees across all levels to ensure that everyone is properly engaged. It would be difficult to discover your employees abilities if you are not fully involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

Ikigai creates an avenue for companies to re-evaluate their workplace culture and figure out new ways to balance the goals of a company with the needs of the employees within.

Leaders who are able to achieve this balance are more likely to run a successful organization. They are able to tap into their employees’ joy and help them direct their passion towards achieving the common goals of the company.



At the end of the day, human beings need to find their ikigai to live fulfilled lives. There is no joy in a life that is devoid of passion. In the workplace, it can be very difficult to achieve high levels of productivity if the employees aren’t happy with their jobs.

Digital coaching is a very effective tool in helping employees and companies align their goals. It can help to bridge the gap between people and their workplaces. At the end of the day, the goal is for everyone to feel fulfilled and experience a feeling of joy when doing their job.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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