Finding meaning in work

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that when you can find meaning in work, you’re happier and more satisfied with your job. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, either, that people who work in the non-profit sector find it easier than employees in other sectors to find meaning in their work and are therefore happier and more satisfied with their jobs. (If it is a surprise check out this study.)

Helping others is motivating. And the good news is that you don’t have to work for a not-for-profit to help people. But often, you need a boss that helps you see the connection between what you’re doing and how it helps others.

Professor Adam Grant from Wharton did a cool study in which one group of fundraisers soliciting contributions to a university read two essays by scholarship students about how the scholarship made a difference to their lives; the other group of fundraisers read two essays by former fundraiser about how that job helped them in their own careers. Guess which group collected more money? Correct. The first group collected significantly more money.

Another study, also by Adam Grant, found that actually meeting the beneficiaries of their work can increase motivation and job satisfaction even more.

The question is, then: How can you help the people in your work team link their efforts with the good of others? And let’s get personal: How does what you do at work help other people?