Editor’s note: Kate Tornone is HR Dive’s lead editor. Our Talent Textbook column explores the fundamentals of talent management and acquisition. Kate can be reached at [email protected].
When a local government fellowship program asked more than 100 applicants about their interest in the job, they overwhelmingly cited the opportunity for “meaningful work.”
Applicants ranked mission above pay, location, professional development and more, according to the Jan. 12 results. And more than half said the coronavirus pandemic only increased their interest in public service employment.
In light of the results, the research firm analyzing the findings urged employers to emphasize mission over tasks. “With meaningful work and personal satisfaction so highly rated, a job advertisement that leans more heavily on the results that can be achieved may be more likely to net interested recruits than one that focuses more on formal roles and responsibilities,” it said in a report.
Other research suggests private and for-profit employers may want to take a note from this government playbook: Employees are seeking higher purpose from their work and choosing to work for employers that have purpose baked into their ethos, an Alight executive said in September, analyzing survey results.
Executives say they know this is true — especially younger workers — but a 2022 report from consulting firm Deloitte revealed that many fail to properly integrate it throughout a business.
Those efforts can start at a high level with executives infusing purpose into a business plan and a company’s core values. But purpose also should permeate the aspects of work with which employees interact every day. Managers can be trained to connect daily work to purpose, making clear how individual contributors have meaningful responsibilities and how they’re part of a company’s mission, whether that’s serving a client or advancing an ESG initiative.
Hilton’s CHRO, for example, said at a December event the company strives to connect its massive workforce and inspire them to do great things for their guests and in service of their communities.
Employers with a more obvious social mission may have a somewhat easier path. Those in green technologies, for example, previously told HR Dive they focus directly on candidates with a passion for sustainability. What those businesses lack in name recognition, they make up for in meaningful work, one VP shared.
These findings, however, don’t give employers license to neglect other offerings, the report analyzing the local government fellowship survey results cautioned.
The next generation of talent will demand meaningful work, and those employers that can offer purpose alongside competitive pay, benefits, flexibility and more will be well positioned in the competition for that talent.