Unsplash | Direction | Nick Fewings

Meaningful Work is about much more than just Purpose

Recently, I got a bit tired because of all those conversations that are taking place everywhere about the topic of purpose. While this surely is an important topic I often find that people seem to equate having a purpose in one´s job with experiencing meaningful work per se. And that´s far from the truth.

Yes, having (or living) an authentic purpose at work can be an important “driver” of the experience of meaning in work – but it´s by far not the only aspect that´s important (when looking at extant research). For that reason, I´ve created this infographic. Feel free to copy and share this with anyone who should know.

And, if you really want to take a deep-dive, I encourage you to have a look at the recent academic papers:

How Applicants can find out if a Job will provide Meaningful Work using Tools from Positive Psychology

Yesterday, I was a panelist at the morning session of Intersect 2018, a phenomenal event along the lines of “Tech Conference x Career Fair x Learning Exhibition”. The conference is hosted by e-learning platform Udacity. You can watch the panel I participated in here on YouTube. The guiding theme was “Competing with Skill, Winning with Confidence”.

Nico Rose | Udacity Intersect

In the afternoon, additionally I hosted a breakout group on using tools developed in the context of Positive Psychology to ace a job interview – but also to find out what kind of jobs we should apply for in the first place. You can download the full slide deck here.

Towards the end of the session, I shared my ideas on how to use the final phase of a job interview (where applicants get to ask questions) to better understand whether the job opportunity will (most likely) provide a meaningful work experience.

In order to do so, I referred to a framework of meaning in work that was developed by Amy Wrzesniewski (and colleagues), one of my academic heroines. Based on decades of research, the framework posits there are four overarching drivers of meaning in work. They are thought to independently contribute to the experience of meaningfulness in a given work environment.

For my session, I tried to come with questions to ask the recruiter or hiring manager at the end of the job interview in order to assess the likelihood of the presence of each driver of meaningfulness in the prospective job environment. Here´s what I came up with. What do you think? What would you ask?