Meaningful work key to employees loving their jobs

What are the first things potential hires look for when scouring job sites and ticking off filters to meet their exact specifications? As you might expect, a competitive salary, flexible working, location, and good holiday leave often top the list. More recently, well-being initiatives are growing in popularity for many job searchers, especially amongst the younger generations of workers, who expect offerings like on-site gyms, wellness rooms, and free food to be part of the job offer. In fact, research from REBA recently found that 68.4% of HR respondents currently have a well-being strategy in place at their companies.

Yet there’s a crucial aspect to job satisfaction that’s often overlooked by both employers and employees alike – namely, is the job meaningful? A recent Workhuman survey revealed that three out of four UK workers who describe their work as meaningful love their job, and 87% of workers would recommend their employer to a friend if they find their work has meaning and purpose.

Meaningful work benefits employees – and employers

While questions like “Is the salary competitive?” and “What’s the annual leave offered?” will certainly place in the top ten questions for job seekers, asking “Is the work meaningful?” is equally important to knowing whether the job is the one for them. Indeed, Workhuman’s global employee survey revealed that meaningful work ranks above perks, supportive management, and even compensation when it comes to the most important factors about a job.

In addition, there’s employee mental health to consider, a topic that’s at the forefront of workplaces today. The cost on the UK economy of poor mental health amongst workers is estimated at £45 billion a year, according to Deloitte, and 12.8 million working days are lost per year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety, per Labour Force statistics. Making sure employees are happy in their job is no trivial matter.

Emotional investment boosts retention

Given the importance to employees of work that holds value for them, organisations must recognise the role it plays in employee retention. Finding the right people for a company can be time-consuming and expensive, and although some hires might look good on paper, or might interview well, unless their values align with the company’s overall mission and principles, their longevity at the company could be short-lived. In today’s world, where personnel have access to more options than ever, especially with technology and innovation creating new types of jobs every day, if employees don’t love their job, they’re likely to leave. Workhuman research showed that 26% of UK workers who are presently employed are currently looking for a new job.

Consequently, from the start, it’s crucial to consider not only a candidate’s qualifications, but also whether the work will be meaningful to them. Employee emotional investment is directly related to job satisfaction – something that is beneficial for everyone.

How can organisations create meaningful work?

Whether work is considered “meaningful” will vary from one individual to the next, so companies must first clearly define their corporate mission and core values. Once this is established, talent acquisition can focus on new recruits who embody that meaning and purpose, and whose values align.

But it’s not just a matter of lip service. Employers need to reinforce the company mission and values within the organisation itself by recognising employees who embody those elements day-to-day. Acknowledging and rewarding people who represent those core values is the best way to foster a company culture that truly reflects the company’s mission and values.

Recognising what matters most

Whilst offering high salaries, workplace perks, and well-being initiatives are certainly attractive to workers, it’s essential that employers recognise that meaningful work is one of the most important factors of all. This is true when looking to attract new recruits, who have a plethora of options to choose from, and companies that offer a job that holds value to them will be their first port of call. Meaningful work is also key to retaining talented staff and keeping them engaged. In short, companies that know and live their mission and values are in the best position to keep and recruit employees who are motivated and engaged.