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Meaningful Work Opportunities at the Core of Future Organizational Success

While people still crave a job that offers good compensation and benefits, those variables have become less of a determining factor in recent years. Workplace culture has been tabbed as a critical component for job seekers, but beyond that, employees are increasingly seeking opportunities where they can perform meaningful work.


Workhuman’s “The Future of Work is Human” survey of 3,500 workers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland found that across all age groups, meaningful work was ranked as the most important aspect of someone’s career. Meaningful work beat out things like positive company culture, compensation and perks, a supportive manager and a fun team.

“In this job seeker’s market, employees are actively seeking out more human-focused work environments where they have an emotional connection to their work and their company’s mission,” said Eric Mosley, CEO of Workhuman. “As humans are very much at the heart of the future of work, companies must focus on their workers’ core human needs and double down on inspiring meaningful work where employees feel recognized, respected, and empowered to do the best work of their lives.”

This increased demand for meaningful work is beginning to shape organizational strategy for the future, said Niamh Graham, vice president of global human resources at Workhuman. Graham said companies she’s interacted with all over the globe are asking themselves what meaningful work looks like to better capture it for prospective and existing employees.

“Companies are changing their people strategies and they’re shifting from the traditional approach,” Graham said. “Whether it’s performance or old-school recognition, they’re shifting to more effective and efficient ways and thinking about uniting their companies with one culture and one direction. What they’re seeing is improved results through what their employees are saying about each other, and what they’re saying about their managers and their culture.”

So, how do organizations go about creating a workplace environment that is conducive to meaningful work? A key driver of meaningful work, Graham said, is having appropriate recognition for employees. This is made easier by technology, as companywide platforms allow for co-workers and managers to congratulate others on a job well done. This kind of recognition fosters a positive work environment, Graham said.

Another iteration of this is pivoting from annual performance reviews. While the practice itself could still be somewhat tied to compensation increases, a model where there is continuous feedback and connectivity between an employee and their manager is a better recipe for creating a meaningful workplace.

The third aspect of creating this environment is all-encompassing, Graham said. Whether it’s a work milestone, personal milestone, a promotion or even a transfer to a new department, organizations should find ways to recognize these moments. Workhuman’s survey found that 51% of employees surveyed said their last work anniversary wasn’t acknowledged.

“Recognizing those different milestones as people learn, grow and develop in an organization is important,” Graham said. “Celebrating those moments that matter through technology and having that social aspect so people can congratulate their colleagues for reaching those milestones, that’s further enhancing the degree of positivity in the workplace.”


Don’t Find It, Create It

Stop trying to find meaningful work, but instead create it, writes Tracy Brower of Fast Company. Brower’s article notes that some organizations allow for this more than others but explains that there are four different measures an employee can take to create meaningful work at their existing jobs.

5 Biggest Myths About Meaningful Work

Meaningful work feels like a pipe dream for many people, but over 80% of Americans aspire to have such work, writes Rebecca Fraster-Thrill in an article for Forbes. Fraster-Thrill tackles the five biggest myths about what meaningful work is, which could provide clarity about how close you might be to attaining it.

Work with Purpose

A younger generation of workers is driving organizations in India to evaluate their own purpose, writes Anjali Venugopalan of The Economic Times – India. The piece explains that aside from making a tangible impact, Millennial workers are also forcing Indian companies to reevaluate other aspects of work such as office layout.

When Loving Your Job is Bad For You

It’s a gift when work is so meaningful to you that you’d do it for free, but that’s also a problem, writes Michael F. Steger for Greater Good Magazine. Steger explores the other side of meaningful work in his well-researched piece, which touches on how some organizations might be inclined to take advantage of an employee who isn’t concerned about compensation.

Labor Day Roots

Writer W. Scott Olsen explores the meaning of Labor Day and how it should be a reminder of the importance of meaningful work in this piece for Olsen writes that we measure our own lives by the work we do, the impact of that work and the quality of our craft.

About the Author

Brett Christie Bio Image

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.

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