For Those Looking for Meaningful Work

There are so many jobs out there, and picking the “right one” can be a daunting task. When choosing a career, we often make a comprehensive mental checklist of what we’re looking for including things like compensation, work-life balance, flexibility, and work culture, just to name a few. When searching for the career that’s right for you, there is one more item you can add to your checklist, and it may just move to the very top. 

A Harvard Business Review article featured a “Meaning and Purpose at Work Report” put together by BetterUp. After surveying 2,285 American workers across 26 industries, results showed that 9 out of 10 employees would trade a percentage of their earnings for a greater sense of purpose at work. They also found that 80% of participants would prefer an employer who cared about them finding meaning at work than earning a 20% pay raise!1

It turns out that choosing a career that makes a difference is key to experiencing overall satisfaction at work! 

Components of Meaningful Work 

So now you may be asking yourself, what makes work meaningful? Below are some important things to think about when discerning whether the job you are interested in checks this box on your list. 

Does the Career Help Others? 

The adage “It is better to give than to receive,” rings true when it comes to engaging in meaningful work. When you perform a job that includes giving, supporting others, and helping those in need, you make a lasting impact on your community and the world. Not to mention, the act of giving rewards your brain with several chemicals related to joy and inner peace.2 Choosing a career that puts people before programs can play a significant role in experiencing a career full of purpose. 

Does the Workplace Cultivate an Environment of Compassion? 

Not only is serving others a crucial aspect of finding meaningful work, but it’s also important to evaluate the degree to which you are cared for at your job. Does your workplace cultivate an environment of compassion and understanding? Does your employer check in with you, not just about work-related matters, but do they ask questions that show they genuinely care about you? You are valuable, not only as an employee but also as a person. Make sure your potential employer acknowledges your worth in their words and actions. 

Do you have Opportunities to Learn and Grow? 

Professional development plays a key role in what makes your work meaningful. A training industry article entitled, “How Professional Development Can Help Generation Z Find Meaning at Work3,” reflects on the desire Generation Z has for mentorship and coaching within a career. Having mentors and supervisors that help you set goals and push you towards a greater purpose is so important. In your next job interview, ask about what opportunities for apprenticeship and pathways for growth the company offers. 

How to Find Meaningful Work  

Now that we have laid some groundwork for the components of meaningful work, you may be thinking, this all sounds great, but are there any jobs out there that actually provide these things? The answer is yes! It may just take some digging. Below are a few tips and tricks that will help you identify companies and organizations that offer the items mentioned above. 

Check out the Company’s Values 

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier” (Roy E. Disney). Write out a list of values (your life principles) and standards, and then see if they match those of the company you are interested in working for. Many businesses and non-profits have a page on their website outlining the values they hold. You can find an example at Here at The Arc, we clearly outline what we stand for right on our website. Researching these core values can help narrow down your job search. Choosing an employer that you share common ideals with will increase your satisfaction and sense of meaning at work.

Look for Certifications 

Another great way to find a company that offers meaningful work is to look for awards and recognition that indicate them as a fantastic employer. Some credible certifications of this kind include Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, Great Place to Work Certification, and Glassdoor Best Places to Work. Sometimes even a good old Google or Indeed review search will do the trick. Chances are, you aren’t the only one out there looking for a job with meaning and purpose. Do your research and look for reputable companies that have been vetted by others. 

Go with your Gut 

This might be the most important tip of them all. Now that you have some more ideas about what you are looking for in a future career, listen to what your gut is telling you. If you get an icky feeling after an interview or you don’t like what you see on a company’s website, don’t pursue that job. If an employer talks down to you on a call or it doesn’t seem like you will have many opportunities to grow in the position, pass that one up. This may seem obvious, but so many people jump into an unfulfilling job situation simply because they didn’t stick to what they originally wanted. You bring VALUE to the table. Remember that as you continue the job search and listen to your gut throughout the process. 


Meaningful work is out there and it is yours for the taking! Make a list of what is important to you, do your research, and listen to your gut. At The Arc, there have several career options that we believe will add meaning and value to your life. If you would like to pursue any of these opportunities, click here







3     an-help-generation-z-find-meaning-at-work/