6 Factors to Make Work Meaningful

Whether you’re the employer or an employee, you need to put meaning into work.


In the developed world in the 21st century, work has a strong emotional and social purpose.

We use it to connect to our personal potential and also to contribute to our wider society. And, yet, how much space is there for this to happen in today’’s workplace?

We have job descriptions, competencies and roles —all created with good intent, which is to tell us what to do and how to do it. But where is the space to personalize our role and shape how we deliver it?

The danger is that we really are viewing people and individuals as “human resources”— impersonal assets to be aggregated, rather than people to be managed and led.

Employees increasingly need their work to have meaning— a vital benefit provided by our notion of reason. And whether you’re the employer or an employee, you need to put meaning into work.

What is meant by meaning of work?

Meaning, of course, is a highly personal and subjective notion. It differs among individuals and at different life stages. Writers in this area have identified a number of factors influencing how individuals derive meaning from work.

These can be summarized as:

    • The significance that work brings to our sense of identity.


    • The orientation we have toward work, especially how we achieve our personal values; these may vary from autonomy to social advancement.


    • The balance we are able to achieve between work and other important aspects of our lives, such as family and friends.


We might move through each of these areas of importance as our careers progress or simply be motivated by one. The key is understanding how work becomes meaningful to each individual.

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