August 15, 2013

Don’t let the Daily Grind Rob Your Sense of Job Fulfillment

Hand with an inscription "Help!" over a pile of documentsWhen you arrive at work each day you probably experience one of two sensations—a sense of purpose, or a sense of futility. The average U.S. citizen spends about 80,000 hours during their career working, more than virtually every other activity save sleeping. If you endure the drudgery of your job simply for the paycheck, you likely view it as a chore, and an empty waste of your time. However, work can provide meaning even if you don’t particularly like what you are doing.

The following list reveals several experiences that may open up new paths to meaning from your work. Though you may still consider your job rather pointless, you can still get some meaning out of your work. As you move through the list, keep in mind that different people are drawn to different types of meanings and that different meanings are available at different workplaces.

  1. Unfortunately, most work does not have some sort of “higher purpose” due to its mundanity or lack of a social mission. But most work can be infused with some sense of purpose, especially for companies that adopt social goals and take on some form of social responsibility. Should your company make efforts to provide social benefits, you may be able to experience some of the psychological awards that go along with making the world a better place.
  2. Many employers offer opportunities for skills development allowing their employees to forward their careers while making themselves more valuable workers. The incentive of personal growth is a meaningful addition to an otherwise mundane workload.
  3. Job satisfaction is strongly tide to a general sense of accomplishment. By setting personal goals, such as perfecting certain skills or performing at a certain level, you can add sense of satisfaction to your job as you accomplish your self-determined goals.
  4. Working at a prestigious organization offers the perk of transferring high status to its employees through simple affiliation. Some people may gain immense satisfaction from the opportunity to share with others their place of employment. The more respect an organization commands, the higher sense of worth its employees may receive.
  5. You may obtain a sense of purpose if you are in a position of power within your organization. Those able to acquire and use power can help add meaning to your daily tasks.
  6. Some companies strive to create a workplace atmosphere that encourages community and camaraderie among employees. A workplace that is conducive to developing friendships and a sense of togetherness can give a job meaning by substituting for other communities, which employees may otherwise lack.
  7. You may gain more meaning from your work if you recognize how it matters to your organization as a whole. Actually seeing your contributions impacting performance and knowing that your suggestions are being listened to grants a sense of involvement that can greatly enhance your sense of purpose.
  8. You may find that it is your sense of freedom and workplace autonomy that gives meaning to your work. Many people are attracted to positions that provide a lack of oversight and the ability to allow yourself to do the work your way and master it on your own merits.



While there are certainly other sources of meaning you can discover in the day-to-day grind, the above items may be some of the most important. While you may experience many factors influencing your sense of meaning, it is possible to have just one of them that is felt deeply enough to satisfy your craving for purpose. A scarcity of meaning in your work suggests that you are a poor fit for your job and should seek other opportunities for career and personal growth.


Read more in Employee Motivation

Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.