Does Your Work Have Purpose?

by Jay Deragon on 01/14/2013

 purposeSteve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” That is the definition of work with a purpose.

So how many people feel their work has a purpose? Additionally how many companies have a purpose?  The answer to both questions is “just a few”.

What Workers Want in 2012, a new study by Net Impact and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University.  According to the study, more students than ever are seeking work that is both interesting and valuable to society (purposeful). The research revealed that 37% of students surveyed expect to make an impact through their work within five years and 58% of students would take a pay cut to work for an organization that shares their values. Interestingly, across all generations of workers, women lead the way in pursuing careers that contribute to society. Sixty percent of women surveyed believe it is very important to work for a socially or environmentally responsible company.

OK, What About Existing Non-Student Workers?

What were the current drivers of job satisfaction for existing employees and do they echo the Rutgers University study about students?  Here is what I found.

SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) research showed Top Contributors to Employee Job Satisfaction in 2012.  Although many factors contribute to employee job satisfaction, only two have remained among the top five aspects since 2002.  Opportunities to use skills and abilities (63% wanted purpose)) displaced job security (61%) for the number one spot of aspects most important to job satisfaction, placing job security second in the list.

So What Is The Purpose of Work?

Most people work to meet their needs but the data strongly suggests that a big need is to fulfill ones purpose.  Purpose is about expressing one’s identity and using ones talents.  If you look at most “job posting” few, if any, communicate the purpose of the job (job descriptions don’t express purpose). So what we have is employers broadcasting jobs with no purpose…..oh yeah, the purpose stated is what the company considers to be purpose of the job and not the individual, there is a big difference.

Speak to the organizations purpose and just maybe you’ll attract people with an individual purpose that matches the organizations purpose. That only works if you have one.

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