Think beyond the paycheck.
For some, work is merely eight, long hours out of their day. But for the lucky ones, it’s considered time well spent. According to new research published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, what separates meaningful work from just punching a clock is no longer a mystery—it’s a combination of connecting with others and time.
Researchers from from the University of Sussex interviewed 135 different workers from 10 different careers, from priests to garbage collectors. They asked each person to reflect upon moments when they found their work meaningful, and other times when they asked themselves “What’s the point of doing this job?”
According to the responses, engagement, commitment, or even great benefits wasn't what made work feel significant. Instead, meaning came from personal and individual situations that couldn’t be curated by leadership or HR. Workers felt their work was meaningful if it made them feel connected to a larger purpose, closer to their loved ones, and a sense of pride of a job well done. “In experiencing work as meaningful, we cease to be workers or employees and relate as human beings, reaching out in a bond of common humanity to others,” Katie Bailey, lead study author, said in a statement.
Here, the five identified factors that create meaningful work, according to the surveyed workers: