Finding purpose in work
The pandemic had people everywhere re-evaluate their lives and work, and many now expect their jobs to be a significant source of purpose in their lives. We’ve seen many leave their jobs, set up on their own or want to work from home.
As a direct result, the pandemic has prompted many businesses and organisations to reconsider people priorities such as employee well-being, resilience and purpose. Three years on, I wonder how they are doing!
Millennials were three times more likely than others to re-evaluate their work, but I've spoken to many older people who feel the same way. We know the pandemic caused employees to reflect on their purpose in life.
What is the purpose of work?
We spend the majority of our lives working. Many of us spend eight hours a day, five days a week dedicating our time to our job. This means that, on average, people work 90,000 hours over the course of their lifetime.
Finding purpose - in general - is not the easiest of things. It's mostly a process of discovery, a deep soul-searching to understand what purpose is, why we need it and how to find it.
I remember in my mid 30's deeply soul-searching, trying to discover what my purpose was in work. I was a designer by trade, but the human mind and psychology were more of a pull for me - having experienced a nervous breakdown and subsequently found long-term psychotherapy. Design was in my DNA - how could I combine the two?
I can't begin to tell you how many books I read, people I spoke to, coaching sessions I booked. It was exciting and painful in same measure. I couldn't understand why everyone else found it so easy, but did they? Did they really find their purpose or was it simply something that seemed like them, something that presented itself at the right time and place? I've tried to fish out those books that meant so much to me back then. We are talking mid 90's. The internet was still newish and books were everything to me.
Lucia's Capacchione's book seems out of print.
Back to employment and purpose of work. Research shows that employees are more satisfied with their jobs when they feel work is meaningful and they feel empowered. The higher the job satisfaction, the higher the focus and productivity and fewer sick days employees take.
What we also learned since the pandemic is that 85% of employees would be willing to accept a pay cut in exchange for a more meaningful job. Wow, that's incredible and incredibly inspiring. It shows that meaning and purpose is important to a lot of people.
There is an intrinsic need to connect with fellow humans and with something bigger than ourselves. This need drives us to look for a sense of purpose or a way to contribute to the greater good.
Are you feeling connected to your work? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel useful? If not, do you know why? Is there anything you can change? Do you know your purpose? Are you curious to delve into this or are you not that interested?
When and if you discover your purpose, you might find it doesn't align with your current job. Is this positive or negative? It depends....you can gradually implement changes and work towards a different, more rewarding goal.
Do I believe that everyone needs to find purpose at work? Maybe not purpose IN their work, but purpose within the organisation, within the people they work with.