Why Meaningful Work Should Matter

With the popularity of self-help books and the growing move toward volunteerism in America, it’s no wonder that many employees are remarking that they long to find jobs that are meaningful or add meaning to their lives. But what does that have to do with recruiting or hiring in the IT industry?

The Impact on Hiring Managers

As a hiring manager or recruiter, you’re no doubt used to sharing the benefits that your company provides to its workforce with potential employees. While salary and traditional benefits such as insurance coverage and paid time off are still the most important benefits that most employees are looking for, it’s worth your time and energy also to learn what energizes and engages the workers in your company. Who is “the customer” and how are they benefited by the work of your employees? What makes your current employees feel that they’ve done a good job?

Why meaningful work matters

An article on ExistentialPsychology.org shares this perspective:

“When one considers the amount of time that most people spend “at work” during their lifetime, it is no wonder that the search for meaning in a work context is so vitally important.”

“Dr. Viktor Frankl’s Existential Analysis and Logotherapy is the commitment to meaningful values and goals. In brief, Dr. Frankl identified three categories of values that, when actualized, provide sources of authentic meaning: creative values, that is, “by doing or creating something; experiential values, that is, “by experiencing something or encountering someone”; and attitudinal values, that is, “by choosing one’s attitude toward suffering.””

The ability to clearly see where they have helped someone in the course of their workday is a strong motivator and one that seems to boost employee’s positive feelings about their work. That’s an easy thing to identify when you work in a service industry, whereas helping people in a trauma setting or an emergency is part of the work environment, but what about jobs where the benefit to others may not be so obvious?

John Coleman, a writer for Harvard Business Review, has been studying how employees find meaning in their work and shares, “For most people purpose is built not found. Working with a sense of purpose day-in and day-out is an act of will that takes thoughtfulness and practice.”

Would employees sacrifice money for meaning?

Better Up Labs is a leadership development company that recently did an in-depth study on meaningful work. Referenced by both CNBC and SHRM, Better Up Labs shared that 9 out of 10 career professionals told researchers they would give up an average of $21,000 a year—for “work that is always meaningful.” Further research revealed that employees stayed with a company seven months longer when they were in a job that they felt was meaningful. They also used fewer sick days and personal time off compared to employees that did not have a job considered highly meaningful.

Helping your employees find the value in their job will benefit both of you in the long run. Your employee will be happier, more productive, and more likely to stay with your company.