What is meaningful work?

What does meaningful work really mean? Research suggests it could be much more accessible than you might think…

The term ‘meaningful’ often brings to mind jobs that save lives or at least make a great difference to the community and/or the environment. This is probably why so few people perceive their role as meaningful.

A 2019 CIPD report stated that almost 1/4 of people don’t think their job ‘contributes to society’ and 1 in 10 don’t even think it ‘contributes to their organisation!’

Yet most people can obtain meaningful work in reality…

ServiceNow has found that the top three factors that contribute meaning actually include:

  1. ‘Being part of a team’ (43%)
  2. ‘Learning new skills to advance your career’ (42%)
  3. And ‘having your contribution to the business recognised by colleagues and managers’ (39%)

Employers may feel reliant upon their business leaders to create this sense of meaning – a great reminder for anyone who is managing a team.

Currently, only 28% of respondents believe they’re part of a team, 17% think they have the chance to progress, and 18% feel ‘recognised’.

What can you do to bring more meaning to your job?

There are some changes you can make to improve each of the above factors.

  1. Unless you work entirely alone, you can take a look at the way you work with others. Are you open to receiving offers of help or ideas shared by colleagues? Do you remember to offer yours in return? Could you ever create a small project group or duo (management approval allowing!)?
  2. Where possible, approach your manager/s with suggestions for skills that would benefit your role and -vitally- the organisation. If you receive a firm ‘no’ but there’s something you really want to work on for the benefit of your career, see how you can build this skill in your own time, while respecting your personal time and budget constraints. You can always take your new skills to your next employer!
  3. Seeking recognition is perhaps the hardest element to ‘DIY!’ It can help to remember that your managers may be noticing and appreciating more than they share; it could just be their personal style. That said, there may also be times that they don’t know quite what you’re working on. If you suspect the latter, don’t be afraid of using small opportunities to share your progress and achievements. After all, your progress and achievements also directly benefit the company.

Still seeking greater meaning at work? Visit our jobs page to see the latest opportunities.



The happiness, productivity & success connection

Your job happiness is directly linked to your career success. Here’s another big study to prove it…

If you’re trying to stick things out in a job that makes you absolutely miserable in the hope of becoming more successful, you may want to reconsider.

There have been many studies that prove happiness precedes job success, as opposed to the reverse. We discussed this back in the summer – when featuring the 1/5 of parents who want their ‘child to seek success over happiness, kindness or honesty‘.

What’s so different about this new study?

The research (which comes from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School) explores many of the same topics. However, it’s the first to provide an ‘exact measure’ of the relationship between job happiness and productivity and success. Their research finds that:

  • Happy employees are 13% ‘more productive and successful’ than their less happy counterparts.
  • The pool of call centre employees both performed faster and made more sales conversions when happier.
  • Multiple elements contribute towards workplace happiness, including higher salaries, secure work, and jobs that prove ‘more interesting and meaningful’.

How significant are these findings?

13% may not sound all that dramatic, yet it is a meaningful figure. Not only would most businesses be pleased to see such an increase in sales conversions, yet this may represent a vital clue as to what’s going wrong in many businesses.

It could be a great time for employers to review how happy their team truly is and take steps to support employee wellbeing.

Of course, employees can also take measures to review their own happiness in and out of work. You can always explore the latter while searching for your next role!