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 job skill of the future

Which one job skill do we all need to work on for the benefit of our future careers?

Most experts agree that automation will dramatically change the job landscape over the coming years. It’s recently been said that “white-collar jobs will be swept away faster by digital change than in any previous economic transformation.” White-collar jobs are those that primarily involve mental and/or administrative work, such as that commonly undertaken by office professionals.

As alarming as talk of job loss is, these digital changes will present benefits to employees and businesses. The above-linked feature also explores how many of our jobs will become easier. Automation is predicted to eliminate many mundane tasks and help us to complete our roles more efficiently.

Yet we also need to adapt as individuals. It’s no good simply letting AI sweep in and remove our jobs. Instead, we need to brush up on our skills and make sure we’re working well alongside new tech.

Certain attributes keep cropping up in these conversations…

…including the job skill discussed in today’s featured study:

Emotional Intelligence (‘EI’ or ‘EQ’) is the skill in question, as researched by Capgemini.

  • 83% of professionals agree that a ‘highly emotionally-intelligent workforce’ will be intrinsic to future success.
  • 61% of executive-level respondents think EI will be a ‘must-have’ career skill within the next 1-5 years. 41% of non-supervisory level employees agree.
  • 76% of executives also say employees need to develop EI to adapt to more client-facing jobs and to complete new tasks requiring skills that ‘cannot be automated’, including ’empathy, influence and teamwork’.

Many employees also believe their skills are replaceable…

  • Just under 2/5 of employees say their job skills will or already have ‘become redundant’ due to automation and/or AI.
  • Currently, only 42% of businesses are training their senior team on EI; this falls to 32% for middle management and just 17% for non-supervisory staff.
  • Yet 75% of business leaders think emotional intelligence can be increased.

Psychologists also agree…

One psychology professor likens EI to mathematical abilities, saying: “there is a certain amount of teaching and tutoring that can be helpful. We can acquire knowledge in the area that will increase the effectiveness with which people use their intelligence.”

Wondering which job skills you need right now?

  • Make sure you’re regularly reading job descriptions for openings in your target sector. Watch our for patterns in employer requirements (particularly when it comes to key skills and personal attributes) and see if there are any gaps you need to work on.
  • It’s always good to think ahead as well. Developing the skills highlighted in such studies may offer a competitive advantage in the future. It also demonstrates initiative – something that’s long been attractive to prospective employers. Ready to get started? Visit the ‘further reading for your future career and job skills’ section towards the bottom of this post.


Voluntary work: benefits for employers & job-seekers

More people are now searching for voluntary opportunities. We take a look at the benefits for employers, employees and job-seekers alike. There’s also advice regarding how to feature your volunteering experiences on your CV…

  • 40% of Brits are currently volunteering in some capacity, while 70% have done so at some stage, reports HR News.
  • What’s more, Google searches for the phrase ‘volunteering near me’ have increased by 124% throughout the UK over the course of a year.
  • Of the UK nations, England has seen the lowest search trend increase, with an 83% rise.

Voluntary work benefits: for employees and job-seekers

The above-linked article explores what’s behind this increased interest in volunteering. It appears that a number of psychological and physical benefits are driving this trend, including:

  • Improved mental health
  • Reduced loneliness
  • Better physical health
  • A feeling of ‘making a difference’
  • And the opportunity to meet new people

Of course, there are a number of additional benefits that can also enhance your CV, namely:

  • The chance to learn something new, both through the volunteering itself and via any associated training opportunities.
  • To gain practical experience that can bolster your CV; especially if you’re looking to enter a new role or industry.
  • An opportunity to gain new skills and/or to further your existing abilities.

Voluntary work benefits: for employers

It’s not only employees who gain something from volunteering. Employers who encourage their team to volunteer also experience a number of advantages.

Sage People suggests these include:

  • Increased employee retention rates through a ‘deeper commitment and connection.’
  • Greater external brand awareness and a sense of employee pride.
  • Employee empowerment; especially if team members can choose where/when they volunteer.
  • Better teamwork and more ‘connected’ teams.
  • The development of new skills (as above), which can be used in-house.
  • Another opportunity to see who holds internal promotion potential.
  • Alongside enhanced morale and reduced sick leave.

How to feature your volunteering experiences on your CV

There are several ways to effectively include your volunteering experiences on your CV. The best option for you will depend on the length of your CV/amount of relevant experience you have for the positions that you’re applying for…

a) If you already have ample industry/role experience (in addition to your voluntary roles):

  • Simply include a Voluntary Work section after your Career History.
  • Keep this brief. Provide a simple list of where you’ve volunteered (or the most relevant places if this list is too extensive to include in full!), alongside when you volunteered, your voluntary job title, and perhaps a sentence to summarise the most relevant skills or experiences obtained.
  • If you feel that your voluntary insights are especially relevant to your application and this method won’t suffice, then either follow the below guidance or consider creating an additional page to detail your Voluntary work alongside your Career History. Only do the latter if it’s particularly relevant to the jobs that you’re applying for.

b) If you have minimal industry/role experience other than your voluntary roles:

  • Include these within your reverse chronological Career History. This means listing your most recent role at the top and working backwards down your CV, whether the roles are paid or unpaid.
  • However, be sure to include the Voluntary nature of the role as part of your Job Title for any unpaid positions.
  • Treat these roles in the same fashion as the rest of your Career History: detailing your employer, your employer’s industry, job title (as above) and dates of employment.
  • You’ll also provide a more detailed overview of your experiences, skills and achievements from these positions.

Ready to look for a new paid role? Visit our jobs page. For further recruitment advice, please call the office on 01225 313130.



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