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.



At breaking point + common job complaints

As two separate studies say employees are at breaking point, we take a look at what this means. Also sharing the most common job complaints…

An issued shared by 61% of male professionals:

The first survey (conducted by CV-Library and reported by Recruiting Times), reveals that…

  • 61% of men have reached their breaking point. In this case, saying they wish to leave their role due to its impact on their mental health.
  • Female respondents are more likely to admit to experiencing mental health issues in general. However, men are more likely to experience the ‘effects of poor mental health’ at work (81.8% of men versus 67.8% of women for the latter).
  • Sadly, 60.9% of men also feel unable to raise their concerns with their boss for fear of being negatively judged and/or misunderstood.
  • Men would actually be most likely to discuss their mental health experiences with their GP. Conversely, women tend to seek out their friends for support.

The findings also contain a number of proactive recommendations from male professionals. These include:

  • Efforts to ‘promote’ a better work-life balance
  • Counselling service referrals
  • ‘Reduced pressure’ regarding long working days
  • Enabling employees to ‘take time out’ when needed
  • More open discussions about mental health

2 in 5 UK employees are nearing their breaking point…

Separately, the Chartered Accountants’ Benevolent Association (CABA) has carried out research on employee stress levels. This shows that:

  • 40% of all UK employees are nearing breaking point due to increasing stress.
  • Professionals are losing an average of 5 hours’ sleep each week due to work pressure.
  • Respondents also feel stressed for a third of each working day.
  • 70% have ‘vented’ to someone about their experiences, yet 46% have done nothing beyond this – hoping the issues would simply disappear in time.

CABA’s findings also include the most common job complaints:

  1. General workload levels
  2. Poor sense of recognition and reward
  3. Salary/pay rates
  4. Their colleagues
  5. The day-to-day job role
  6. ‘Company culture’
  7. Long working days
  8. How their workload compares to their colleagues’
  9. Their clients
  10. Progression or career path potential

What does this all mean for employers and employees?

  • Both sets of data reflect recent findings regarding job satisfaction in general. Only last month we reported on the swathes of professionals planning to switch roles.
  • Poor work-life balance, high stress and a sense of not being supported all keep cropping up.
  • Employers need to be reading such data and working out how they can do more to listen to their team, reduce pressure levels and make everyone feel more supported. This is all vital for longer-term employee attraction and retention.
  • Employees also need to look at what they can do to improve their own working lives. At the lighter end of the scale, there are ways to increase levels of joy at work and make sure you’re doing enough of what you enjoy outside of your job too.
  • In more serious cases, when you (or someone close to you) see that work stress is really starting to affect you, you may need to seek the support of your GP.

Everyone reaches those times when they simply need to find a fresh environment more suited to their life and career goals. Visit our jobs page to see the latest vacancies. 



Choosing company culture over salary

Which is more important, your company culture or your salary? Why the former may mean more to job satisfaction…

Employers may think a competitive salary is all that’s needed to attract and retain talented team members. Yet, while salaries are clearly important, this way of thinking can be risky in times of skills shortage.

After all, the latest findings indicate that:

  • 57% of people believe their company culture has more of an effect on their job satisfaction than their salary level.
  • 75% would ‘consider’ an employer’s culture before even making a job application.
  • 63% think it’s one of the primary reasons they remain in their role.
  • And 70% of employees would start looking for a new job if their working culture ‘deteriorated’.
  • In addition, respondents favour businesses that represent a ‘clear mission and purpose’ (89%).

It’s not the first time we’ve read such stats. Back in the Spring, it was reported that employees would sacrifice their work-life balance in order to enjoy a positive environment.

Respondents even say they’d choose to work a 60-hour week rather than be a part of a business that ‘doesn’t value culture’.

What contributes to a positive company culture?

Business leaders will want to read this HR News post in full. In summary, there are many elements that contribute to a strong working culture. These include…

  • Respecting – and being fair to – the team
  • Displaying ‘trust and integrity’
  • A culture of teamwork
  • Being flexible/open to improvements
  • Using ‘pre-boarding’ strategies, such as workplace buddies and mentoring for soon-to-be employees
  • Providing continued support/guidance
  • Offering recognition and incentives
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • And strong working relationships (including those with management)

Recognition is also prioritised ahead of pay rises…

Once again, the above list calls to mind another research report.

  • More than 3/5 of employees would rather work for a company that expresses praise and thanks than to be paid 10% more without it.
  • Yet there’s a clear gap between hope and reality, as only 16% of managers think they’ve been given the tools and know-how to ‘recognise colleagues effectively’.

How do you learn more about an employer’s company culture?

Naturally, it can be hard to truly understand a business’s working culture until you’re actively a part of it. Yet there are some great clues to help you decide whether it’s the sort of place that you’d like to work…

  1. Have a really good look at the company’s website. This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people just have a quick glance at the ‘about’ page. Take the time to really read what the business is highlighting about itself and its team.
  2. As well as reading the business’s latest news via their website and social feeds, see what others are saying about them. How do their employees talk about their work on Twitter, etc? Has anyone reviewed their experience of working for the company? The latter tends to be more common for larger regional/national employers. Of course, reviews can be subjective yet they can be helpful if you read them with a critical mind.
  3. Job advertisements can also provide some useful insights. Especially if there are mentions of team outings, company events, employee benefits, charity initiatives, etc.
  4. Search for the business in the actual news – whether local, national or industry publications.
  5. Use interviews as a chance to find out more about the working culture and environment.
  6. And, of course, don’t forget to ask your recruitment consultant for their insights. This is just one of the many benefits of working with an agency who specialises in your field.

Ready to discover a new company culture? Here are the latest jobs