Is your Job Meaningful?

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Is your Job Meaningful?
Anneke Zwart, Student (University), Netherlands, Moderator
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.

Kitten and Cat Perspective of Meaning
srinivas, Lecturer, India, Member
A cat will shift its kitten by holding it with its teeth at some place in its neck which is safe and healthy to the kitten. If we see from kitten point of view doing so may look meaningless, yet it trusts the mother and survives.
From the cat point of view it takes all views into consideration which even humans may miss since it has a sharp vision. And its decision is not only meaningful, but in the best interest of its kitten.

Is your Job Meaningful?
Josephat Olwal Ngesah, Kenya, Member
This is an interesting topic and question.I would react to it by asking another question, do you live to work or you work to live?Depending on which side of the divide you belong to,
- WORKING TO LIVE may portray a selfish image of caring only about self. I could be wrong.
- LIVING TO WORK imposes a sense of responsibility that Anneke has submitted here. This means that as long as you live, you'll ensure you work and produce for your survival and that of others including your closest family. If you belong to this school of thought (where you live to work), I think you leave the world a better place for everyone. If you are in agreement, this should be the source of your joy in everything you do and I am sure you will find work meaningful and purposeful. The impediment to your joy may be scuttled by those you work for or those that are around you. There is a possibility of you finding your job meaningless if you work under a boss and not a leader, or your environment is toxic due to colleagues who do not appreciate you.

A Way to Reframe a Job from Makings Products to Building a New Country
Javier Elenes, Business Consultant, Mexico, Member
When I was Managing Director of a bearings manufacturer which was coping with a big challenge, and needed to increase productivity by 300%, I told to our people: "We are not making wearings we are building a new Mexico".

Asking yourself "Is my Job Meaningful"?
Henegar, Director, Member
It is good to see a young person at the dawn of her career asking this question. Over the years (4 decades plus), I've noted people starting to discover this as a question of themselves — generally when they are struggling professionally (burn out) or personally for some reason.
If asked prospectively, (mentors take note) this can be truly powerful. To the point of mentoring -- that is where I found meaning in my work, and it has been transferable from one job to the next. Sharing what you've learned, raising up your employees and supporting your leaders is the single case that is always a step ahead to personal success and self-actualization.

Choose a Study and Job you Like
Doaa Saayed, Student (University), Lebanon, Member
In my opinion, choosing a job you like will lead you to having a meaningful job…
This already starts from choosing the major of your study. We know some people are obliged to go to faculties they dislike, due to their family's culture or inheritance and as a result they may end up having nothing, just stress.

Every Job Has Significance and Meaning Attached!
C.L. Kappagomtula, Professor, Malaysia, Member
We may tend to think, that some jobs have no meaning attached and hence the person doing that job may feel out of place. But this premise is wrong. Each and every job has a meaning and organizations will do well if incumbents for their jobs are 'well initiated' to their job design (JD), job analysis (JA) and job specification (JS). If an individual in any role in an organization understands these three concepts about his / her job, viz. JD, JA, and JS, then not only he / she will have clarity about the job he performs, but enjoy it as well, identifying as a part and parcel of 'indispensable' entity in the organization. He / she will be well motivated towards his work, and feel proud as a positive contributor to the organization.

Asking Yourself: Is My Job Meaningful?
joseph lemarleni, Manager, Kenya, Member
It is much okay to say a job is meaningful because of someone's motivation associated in doing the job. But what if I ask this question: Does your job allow you to advance your career? To me, if it does not, then it is meaningless.

It's All About Alignment!
Sridhar Gopal, Management Consultant, India, Member
To me as a business consultant and career mentor, I feel a job becomes your energizer when it aligns linearly with what you think, what you do and what you feel. This I feel is a meaningful occupation. If you think of music most times, then practice along with your feelings and give live performances. On the other hand if you think of programming most of the times, practice coding and head a quality group. One can earn well anyway!

Is your Job Meaningful
Engel, Project Manager, Germany, Member
Good question - and good quote by Steve Jobs.
Reasoning about the meaning of jobs is always well accompanied by a Jobs quote. By the way - Jobs life has a meaning for our (job)lives beyond his life.

3 Factors for a Meaningful Job
Jose Luis Figueroa, Management Consultant, Mexico, Member
A meaningful job is the one that is in line with your professional growth expectation (vision 5 - 10 years). It should include also social contribution and income expectations.
If your current job contemplates those three factors, then you should be in the right direction to have a meaningful job.

A Meaningful Job Must Balance Needs
fred siyoi, Manager, Kenya, Member
In my frame, a meaningful job should satisfy the balance between different competing needs.
These are family needs, clients needs (in my case patients), professional growth and ultimately developing a legacy.

Is your Job Meaningful?
anwer abdalla mohammed abubakr, Lecturer, Saudi Arabia, Member
Regardless of the job satisfaction, I think it's meaningful to participate and be active in the society (your parents, brothers and sisters, neighbors). The Quran says: "spend what we have given you".

Meaningful for Whom?
Oula denis Ignatius, Accountant, Uganda, Member
Meaningfulness of a job may be looked at from different perspectives. It may be from an employer's point of view, an employee point of view and societal point of view:
1. EMPLOYER. A firm normally sets its objectives and creates vehicles on how to achieve that goal, one of those vehicles is the establishment of job functions. Every job function in an organisation has a role to play in the achievement of the general organisation goal. So the job you hold in an organisation is normally meaningful to that company.
2 a) From the EMPLOYEE's point of view, one always seek for a job that furthers his professional growth. A meaningful job is therefore considered to be that job which is in line with one's professional career.
2 b) A meaningful job should offer attractive remuneration to the employee; where a job does not generate sufficient benefits for the employee it may not be considered meaningful by that person.
3. SOCIETY may perceive a job as meaningful only when they see its benefit to them.

What Motivates YOU in a Job may not Necessarily be what Motivates ME.
Josephat Olwal Ngesah, Kenya, Member
@joseph lemarleni, you will be surprised what "motivation" means to different people. Different people react differently to different environments or stigma, if you like. Same with motivation. What motivates you in a job may not necessarily be what motivates me.
However, there is a disclaimer, if you are employed do not let your personal motivation overshadow your organization's. Always try to align your motivation to the objectives of your organization and if you find it difficult, look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you are the problem or the organization is. Then make a decision. You can either quit or review your motivation targets.

What is Enough?
S. Lago, Business Consultant, Canada, Member
Job satisfaction is tied to life satisfaction and is different for each individual. Most unhappiness in life is created from unmet expectations. How does this play out?
An individual with little education doing a perceived menial job can be very satisfied given they have accepted that they are meeting the needs of their family and recognize that attaining a better job requires more work/money/opportunity than to which they have access. They have chosen to accept circumstances and allow for happiness.
Conversely, there are individuals with unlimited resources available to them, entitled individuals that will never be happy or fulfilled as they have not come to recognize their limitations and purpose; their 'enough'.
Happiness, in life and work, comes when there is alignment between an individual's expectations and life/work outcomes; 'enough'.:).

Self Management is Key for Making your Job Meaningful to You
Theophilus Mothusi, HR Consultant, Botswana, Member
Is your job meaningful? MEANINGFUL, without searching the word in a dictionary, may refer to a lot of things. But to me, it means does my job make me happy, do I feel I have contributed to the universe, to my organization's growth, have I contributed to significantly to my colleagues' career growth?
Furthermore, I believe self-management is key to ensuring that one's job is meaningful. One has to self motivate, be innovative in his delivery of his job tasks. Self management, goes even to an extent of coming up with your own up-skilling interventions and avoid the job becomes too much of a routine. Routine tasks tend to be boring, as they don't give one a chance to be challenged.

Examples of Reframing Meaningful Work
Maurice Hogarth, Consultant, United Kingdom, Premium Member
Anneke I like the image of ‘reframing’ roles to show people their part in the ‘big picture’.
Your topic relates to Job Satisfaction; to the ‘atmosphere’ in which a job is given a meaningful value (by the organisation or person) that the person can relate to.
‘Meaning’ was given to the work of wire wrappers at Plessey Telecomms: to counter poor quality (rewarded by the pay system) they were shown how their behaviour caused a risk that, as mothers, they might not be able to telephone for a doctor if their child was ill.
Meaningfulness/satisfaction stems from having pride in the contribution of your performance to the totality, taking pride from the quality of your piece of the jigsaw. Witness the story of the NASA cleaner being in the ‘team’ putting a man on the moon.
Years ago there was a Reader’s Digest account of someone thinking ‘meaningfully’ about his holiday job of packing cabbages (Ed: ~a vegetable). This enabled him to think-through his boredom to the marvel of the product. Wish I'd kept it.

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