Employees will work harder, longer and for less pay if job feels meaningful
- Employees in a new study by mobile coaching pioneer Betterup will produce more, work harder, stay with companies longer and forego higher pay for meaningful work. The study of more than 2,000 U.S. professionals concluded that meaningful work is measurable and achievable, and that employers can make substantive gains by responding to employees' desire for meaning at work.
- The Meaning and Purpose at Work report found that employees on average believe work is half as meaningful as it could be. Almost all of the respondents (90%) would forgo 23% of their earnings — an average of $21,000 a year — for more meaningful work. Employees with meaningful work stay on the job 7.4 months longer than other employees, put in an extra hour a week and take two fewer paid leave days a year.
- Company culture has a significant effect on meaningful work, according to the research. Employees with strong social support networks in the workplace find more meaning in work, while those in toxic workplaces, where there's bullying, exclusion and other undesirable behaviors, lower meaningful work scores by 24%.
Globoforce's WorkHuman Analytics and Research Institute and IBM's Smarter Workforce Institute defined meaningful work as the intersection between employees' understanding of the value of the work they perform and their employer's mission. The institutes released a study last year in which they cited meaningful work as the single largest driver of a positive employee experience. Employees who see value in what they do report to being more satisfied on the job than those who don't. Employees' search for meaning in their work runs so deep, in fact, that they're willing to take big pay cuts for jobs they enjoy. Nearly 60% of Americans would take a job they love over a job they hate, even if the preferred position paid half the amount of salary they would earn at the job they dislike, according to a survey from Lexington Law.
Meaningful work, along with empowerment, frequently emerge as employees' most desirable work experience. Many factors go into making employees' work experience positive. Allowing workers more autonomy and ensuring that they have the knowledge, tools and training to perform their best work go a long way in making work meaningful.
"More than ever, people are on the hunt for meaning and that includes at work, where more and more of our time is spent. To attract and retain top talent, and achieve optimal productivity, companies must build greater meaning into the workplace," Alexi Robichaux, Co-Founder and CEO of BetterUp, said in a statement. "This research clearly shows that meaningful work is a win for the human condition, for companies, and for society at large. Fostering meaningful work is emerging as a cornerstone of a more creative and conscious business world."