- Ninety percent of millennials in a recent study said it was either "somewhat important" or "very important" to them that their work have a positive impact on the world. The study from Olivet Nazarene University asked 2,024 people about the importance of meaningful work.
- Most (64%) said their current work is meaningful. Those in the eduction sector and whose jobs were "instructional" in nature found the most meaning in their work. Those in retail or whose jobs involve "sales" derived the least meaning. Professionals working in HR and recruiting rated average.
- Half of the respondents said they'd take less money to do more meaningful work and 68% said they'd work longer hours to do more meaningful work.
While the study focused on millennials (and those millennials said meaningful work is more important to them than it is to their parents), the findings contain lessons that may be useful in engaging all employees.
A 2017 study from Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute and IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute concluded that meaningful work — defined as a circumstance in which employees understand the value of the work they do and the organization's shared mission — was the single largest contributor to a positive employee experience.
Still, other research indicates that meaning isn't everyone's top priority. For example, money remains the top motivator among workers across age groups, vocations and industries, according to a Paychex study released in May. But while the pursuit of more money was the top reason employees quit their jobs, more than a quarter of survey respondents said they left their jobs for more meaningful work elsewhere.
Talent professionals can work to ensure all employees see meaning in their work. "While having a purpose starts inside every individual person," Stefan Ries, chief human resources officer at SAP SE, previously told HR Dive, "companies are also responsible in encouraging and training employees to find their purpose." Among other things, experts say employers can create a culture that embodies the company's mission, show workers how their tasks advance company goals and give time off for volunteering.