Call it purpose, passion, meaning, or whatever you’d like, but these days, everyone is trying to find a job that they’re excited about and that provides them with a sense of accomplishment. We hear it from our clients, friends and family members, but we wanted to dive deeper into how people view purpose at work, its importance and whether they’ve found it or not.

Actively Searching For a Purpose

Our research shows people are actively searching for purpose in their jobs. While 50% of people who are happy in their current role say their job provides them with a sense of purpose, only 28% of people actively job searching can say the same. When we phrased the question differently, asking respondents if their current job provides them with a sense of personal fulfillment, only 20% of job searchers agreed. On the flip side, of the people who say they are not looking for a new job, nearly 60% say their job provides them with a sense of personal fulfillment.

When we asked them to consider the impact their company makes on society, it became clear that how employees view their employer also affects their sense of purpose and job satisfaction. Of those not looking to change jobs, 57% believe their organization is making a positive impact on people’s lives. Conversely, of those people who are looking for a new role, only 36% believe that their current organization positively impacts people’s lives.

Purpose at Work Stats

A Thirst for Knowledge

When respondents were asked, what would make them feel more fulfilled in their job, the most selected answer amongst people actively job searching, was more learning and training. This even surpassed a raise in salary and promotion.

Employees want to learn new skills and to feel as though their organization is setting them up for success. Training and development teams have a huge opportunity when it comes to improving employee engagement at their organization. Organizations should speak with employees to try to understand what type of training they’re looking for. Is it hard skills directly tied to their job function? Do they want the opportunity to learn skills outside of their role? Maybe they’re more interested in strategy, and the overall business plan. With this information, businesses can create year-round training opportunities that provide employees with the sense of fulfillment and purpose they’re looking for.

Our research shows that it’s not just job searchers who want additional learning and training opportunities, in fact, 48% of Millennials also said that more on-the-job learning and training would increase their level of fulfillment with their jobs.

Engaging Millennials at Work

Millennials struggle the most to find personal fulfillment out of their job. 22% say their job does not provide them with a sense of personal fulfillment, while just 4% of people over the age of 40 feel this way. This mirrors Gallup’s data, which finds that just 29% of millennials are engaged at work – making them the least engaged generation in the workforce.

Part of this gap could be due to the fact that millennials have different desires and ideas about what creates personal fulfillment at work. For example, 33% of millennials said that paid time off to volunteer would increase their sense of fulfillment compared to just 11% of people over the age of 40. Additionally, 36% of millennials want the flexibility to work where and when they want, while just 18% of people over 40 said this would affect their level of fulfillment at work.

Of everyone that we surveyed, 70% of respondents would consider taking a new job if a good opportunity was presented. The challenges and pressure for businesses to help develop a sense of purpose in their workforce are greater than ever. Seize the opportunity to understand what your workforce wants from their career. You may be surprised to find out that that financial incentives play just a small part in cultivating a sense of purpose in your employees and may no longer be enough to attract and retain top talent.