Is your Job Meaningful?

Expectancy Theory
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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Is your Job Meaningful?

Finding a purpose in your job is important for millennials and in fact for everybody.
Nevertheless, many people have a job that they don't regard as meaningful. Therefore, they are not completely satisfied.
This is not really surprising, especially when realizing that many common occupations are not immediately associated with ‘meaning’. Think about jobs like: cashier, sales representative, administrative employee, factory worker.

But, doesn't it just depend on the way people define the word ‘meaningful’ when it comes to having a job? The former mentioned occupations, in the end, also help others within society. When ‘meaningful’ is associated with ‘giving’ and ‘helping others’, it means that nearly any role in any company can be seen as meaningful; each employee contributes to society In his/her own way.

Finding meaning in your job requires reframing the work you perform as a chance to help others, and being conscious about the ways in which your job ‘gives’ to society and/or how it supports yourself or the ones you love.
There are several ways to find the meaning in your job:
  1. CONNECTING WITH END USERS: It makes you aware of the way in which your job helps others (the end users).
  3. REALIZE HOW YOUR WORKS HELPS YOUR BELOVED: Even if an organization’s mission does not fit within your definition of ‘meaning’, a mindset that thinks about the ways in which your job supports the ones you love can be helpful in finding a motivation. A study found that those who regard their work as supporting their families were more productive than those that regard their work as ‘not meaningful’.
The main message is that having a job that you do not see as your one true calling does not mean your job can't be meaningful. Reframing your work through the above steps can help you see the relevance of your job.

⇒ How do you think about reframing your job in order to find meaning?

Source: Smith, Esfahani E., (2017), How to Find Meaning in a Job that isn't your True Calling, HBR August 2017.


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