What is it that you actually look for in a job? Money, status, power, security or something else?
In fact, numerous research studies, including Gallup's State of the Global Workplace report into employee engagement, suggest that 'purpose' is a crucial component of job satisfaction. In other words, we want to feel that what we do has meaning, and isn't just a pointless passing of our time.
However, Gallup's research across 192 organisations in 49 industries and 34 countries reveals that just 13% of employees worldwide are truly engaged at work. They're the ones who work with passion, feel connected to their company and are helping drive it forward. That's of benefit not just at an individual level, but also to the companies they work for.
For the majority (63%) of workers though, it's just a case of turning up and going through the motions, not necessarily hating their job, just not really bothered by it. At least that's better than the 24% who really, really don't like what they're doing at all.
Put together, the disengagement of this 87% of the workforce comes at a heavy price, with Gallup estimating that it costs half a trillion dollars to the US economy each year.
How could things be better?
By appointing managers who encourage employee development and focus on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses and have true leaders in leadership positions.
Unfortunately, most employees experience quite the reverse. Lacking autonomy to make decisions and with a limited range of activities to carry out, they end up simply repeating tasks instead of enjoying the challenge of tackling something new. Add in few, if any, opportunities to work on a project from start to finish, and inadequate feedback on their performance, and the result is a damaging sense of 'lack of worth' and feeling of disengagement.
In comparison, those who see and feel that their job has a positive and long-lasting impact on others, feel engaged and motivated - good for the individual and for productivity.
Whatever profession you are in, it is worth thinking about how we might bring this sense of worth to what we do at work.
To address the issue, some forward thinking companies are adopting 'job crafting'. So, rather than seeing job descriptions as fixed points which can't be strayed from, they are allowing their employees to add to, revise and adapt what they do, to give their role greater personal meaning.
Other organisations show their employees that what they do matters by bringing them together with those who have actually benefited from the work that they do.
Facebook, for instance, introduces its software developers to those who have found old friends and long lost family members through the site, while tractor manufacturer John Deere connects its staff to those who buy and use their products in the field ... farmers.
But these are strategies that require a company's buy in and implementation, so are generally out of most people's control.
If, like many, you're experiencing a sense of detachment and lack of purpose, you could consider escapingthe corporate rat race altogether and setting up in business for yourself ... in many ways the perfect remedy to a job that fails to motivate and inspire.
Start by analysing the things which surveys have shown go to providing job satisfaction and making it meaningful and worthwhile, here are the top 5 :
5 Keys to Job Satisfaction
- The autonomy to make decisions When you have a business of your own, or you're a self employed contractor, you have autonomy in spades. In fact, you are in almost total control of what you do and how you do it, and you don't get much more autonomy than that.
- A wide variety of tasks to keep you interested. Again, when you are in business for yourself, you continually have to learn new skills, either to tackle a task yourself, or to know enough to oversee someone else doing it for you.
- The challenge of the new, When you work for yourself, you constantly have to create new opportunities from scratch, often with little or no prior experience. That should certainly keep you on your toes.
- The opportunity to work on a project from start to finish. In business, you not only have to conceive an idea in the first place, but you have to manage its progress every step of the way. That means you get the satisfaction of seeing something you have created come to fruition.
- And finally, feedback on your performance If you work for someone else, you only have one or two others, your line managers, to give you a sense of how good you are or how hard you're working - not necessarily an objective or rounded opinion. However, if you are in business, your marketplace of customers or clients will give you constant feedback. Things don't get much more interactive than that.
Becoming a new entrepreneur or business owner brings all of these elements together, and opens up a wealth of intensely exciting possibilities for you to explore. And, by providing a service or product that people seek out, appreciate and benefit from, you're doing your bit to make the world a better place - for them and for you. Doesn't that sound exciting and worthwhile?
Looking for more inspiration from the Award winning author, speaker and coach Maite Baron, then download 2 free chapters from her Nautilus 2014 Award winning book Corporate Escape The Rise of the New Entrepreneur. With the bonus that you will receive her weekly thought provoking updates. Get your download here.