It’s Not Just Millennials Who Desire Meaningful Work

Articles about “meaningful work”—and what that phrase means—are cropping up everywhere.

Here’s a small sampling:

·      “4 Tips To Help Millennials Find Meaningful Work,” from Fast Company, tells employers point blank that Millennials “aren’t motivated by money.” Instead, these younger workers are “driven to make the world more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable” through the work they do.

·      In “Millennials Want Meaningful Work,” Hoopla CEO, Michael Smalls, writes that Millennials “prefer to have meaningful jobs that provide opportunities to effect positive change in their communities and the world at large. … A study by The Intelligence Group reports that 64 percent of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling.”

·      A Huffington Post infographic tells us “more Americans are pursuing meaning over money at work” and offers this trio of compelling statistics:

·      96% of working Americans agree that being able to apply personal interests in their career would make them happier in general.

·      68% would be willing to take a salary cut to work in jobs that better allowed them to apply personal interests.

·      And 79% are willing to take a pay cut at the start of their careers for jobs that allowed them to focus on meaningful work.

Again, there’s a virtual mountain of articles on this topic and the more of them you read the more one thing stands out: most are written about Millennials. But the fact is older employees want meaningful work as well.

In April, Forbes published an article titled, “What Older Workers Want, But Aren’t Getting,” which cites a Sloan Center survey of employees age 50 and older at large companies. When asked about the most important elements for a quality job, the second item on their list was “opportunities for meaningful work.” In this case, older workers defined meaningful work as having their skills and experience valued and used well; making a difference in the world; and opportunities to engage in the things they value personally. Sounds a lot like the definition given by younger workers, doesn’t it?

The article also quotes Elizabeth Fideler, author of the books Men Still at Work and Women Still at Work, who said that the desire for meaningful work is a key reason many professionals over the age of 60 haven’t retired.

It’s pretty clear that most individuals, regardless of their age, want meaningful work. If we hope to reap the substantial rewards of having employees who are truly engaged in what they do, we not only need to come to terms with the power of assigning meaningful work—we need to master it.


Connect with the individuals and sources highlighted in this post by clicking the links below:



@mwsmalls (Hoopla CEO)

@cassandra_daily (The Intelligence Group)

@healthyliving (Huffington Post)