Meaningful work is something everyone wants. Employees desire jobs with a purpose they can identify with; they want to know that they are making an impact.
But is "meaning" a workplace necessity? Should not employees show up to work each day engaged and ready to go simply because the employer is paying them?
The answer to that question may be "no." While, at first glance, "meaningful work" sounds like another fluffy, feel-good ideal, it turns out that employees want and need more than a paycheck to stay engaged at work.
Consider the evidence: An alarming 57% of employees in North America surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said they were not motivated by their company’s mission. And, not surprisingly, 50% said they did not expect to be with their employers a year later—which may indicate that for employees a sense of purpose is critical.
Indeed, meaningful work seems to have a real and recognizable impact on employees and the organization as a whole. Here’s what happens when employees work with purpose:
Intrinsic motivation increases
Employees are motivated by rewards and recognition. But these are extrinsic motivators that can go only so far; eventually, they lose their appeal. The key to lasting motivation goes deeper—it is intrinsic. And purpose fuels intrinsic motivation.
Consider the results of a study published in the Global Business Review in April, which looked at 480 IT professionals across India and found that transformational leadership, combined with meaningful work, improved commitment to the organization and employee performance.
In other words, when leaders listen to employees and explain the purpose behind a task, the latter are more interested and more motivated to do well. Meaningful work is the spark that ignites intrinsic motivation—it is what leads employees to work hard because they want to, not because they have to.
Purpose attracts more job-seekers
Recruiting top talent is getting more and more competitive. In fact, 56% of recruiters surveyed by Jobvite in 2015 said they could not find the skilled talent they needed, and 95% expected this problem to remain or become even more competitive in the future.
On the other side of the aisle, while more employees are on the search for new opportunities, they are more picky about whom they work for. They do not only want a job—they want meaningful work.
In a study of 7,700 millennials from 29 countries around the world conducted by Deloitte, 56% of those surveyed said they had ruled out working for an organization because of its values. What is more, 70% said they believed their personal values were shared by the organizations they work for.
Professionals choose employers with similar values—they choose to work with a purpose. After all, a survey of job seekers spanning multiple generations published by Millennial Branding in May 2014 found meaningful work to be one of the most important characteristics of an employer during the job search.
Purpose and values set employers apart from their competitors in the job market. When employers can show job-seekers that their work is meaningful in multiple ways, they attract more candidates and fill positions faster.
Employees will stick around
Job-hopping is an increasingly popular trend, and an expensive one, at that. According to a report published by Gallup in May, turnover from millennials alone costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. Not to mention the headaches employers experience.
Why are employees leaving? They are on the search for work that satisfies them, gives them more drive and challenges them. In the Gallup study, 71% of millennial respondents who strongly agreed that they knew what their organization stood for and what made it different from its competitors said they planned to be with their company for at least one year.
In addition, among those in the DeLoitte survey who said they would stay with their employer for more than five years, 88% said they felt a sense of purpose.
In sum: Employees want to know their work means something, and if they do not, they will look for purpose elsewhere. But meaningful work breeds loyalty. When employees feel a sense of purpose, they are happier, love their jobs and want to stick around.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
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