What is the main purpose of people

Sometimes work is tedious. And sometimes work is just a means to an end. But give up a job entirely? Very few people want that. Because for us, work means much more than making a living. Working gives meaning, defines our place in society, structures our lives and strengthens our self-esteem.

1. Value of work: how we experience it

2. Meaningful work - a must?

3. In principle, every job makes sense

4. Job with meaning: example project manager

5. Those who are constantly looking for new paths will find lasting meaning

6. Finding the meaning of work: this is how it works

7. s.mile project: our contribution to the meaning of work

The uplifting effect of work can be demonstrated: In Germany, those in employment continuously report almost 25 percent higher satisfaction in life than the unemployed, according to the results of the long-term SOEP 2011 survey conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research. So if you work, you seem happier.

Value of work: how we experience it

The study “Worlds of Values ​​4.0” by the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs examined how we experience today's world of work and our profession and which world of work we would like for the future. It became clear that material security through work is still very important to many people in Germany, but also self-development and a good work-life balance.

An overview:

  • A majority (28 percent) want their job carefree and safe For them, work is part of it, but it also takes up too much space and time in private.
  • Almost a quarter of those surveyed represent power in the center of their working world. On the one hand, to gain wealth (15 percent), on the other hand, in the form of top performance at work that is committed and happy to be achieved (eleven percent).
  • A balanced one Balance between job and work Finding that is the top priority for 15 percent of people in Germany - more time to live instead of work. Almost as widespread is the view that one can use the Meaning of life not only in the job should be looking for (13 percent).
  • One in ten holds it Self-actualization extremely important at work. They appreciate opportunities to keep reinventing themselves and actively shape their future. Almost as many want a working world that is more open again Solidarity, loyalty and participation of all people (nine percent).

Meaningful work - a must?

The profession is still there for many people to make money. But a more contemporary understanding of work is becoming more and more popular in our society. “Why?” Is the question asked by the younger Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1995. Is it the same for you that you ask why work and when it makes sense to work? The young generation not only wants to recognize the meaning of their work, but also a better compatibility of work and individual lifestyle - with a secure job at the same time. This also applies to career changers who, after a successful career, want more from their job than just an attractive salary. Everything should get better at the new workplace - and that includes meaningful work. Where did the higher demands lead to? That, especially in responsible positions, leisure and work are no longer opposed to one another - they merge, work-life integration instead of work-life balance is lived. Meaningful work, with which one's own interests and the job can be reconciled, then contributes a lot to a high level of satisfaction in life.

Companies are reacting to this development and are increasingly implementing new forms of work organization: These include flexible working hours, home office, virtual meetings and sabbatical arrangements. You have certainly already stumbled across the concept and the catchphrase “New Work”, which redefines the contribution of work to our lives and describes our future: Less wage labor, more self-sufficiency and meaningful work that you really want to do. Employers see the new work models as an opportunity to attract qualified employees and retain them in the long term. In addition, companies also benefit in terms of productivity from employees who see a purpose in their work and are motivated. As early as 2007, a study by the psychologist Adam Grant had impressively demonstrated that employees who were shown who benefited from their work and in what way achieved significantly better sales revenues.

In principle, every job makes sense!

Someone who is professionally committed to the well-being of people, animals or the environment usually has fewer difficulties in seeing a meaning in their work - although here, too, annoying routine work can dilute the meaningful life. But what about occupations in administration, logistics or sales? How do you experience the subject of meaning in your job? Can you really find meaning in any work? Meaning researcher Tatjana Schell is convinced that you can. In an interview with Wirtschaftswoche, she presented four characteristics by which we can recognize the meaningfulness of our work.

When we find our work useful:

  • significance: What I do has positive consequences.
  • coherence: What I do suits me and my lifestyle.
  • orientation: I know the company's goals and can accept them.
  • Affiliation: I feel valued, involved and given responsibility.

A job that makes sense: example project manager

If these characteristics apply, every activity can in principle be perceived as meaningful, says Schell. The project manager in a pharmaceutical company can serve as an example: His tasks, such as monitoring the target specifications, may have little to do with the actual corporate objective - the manufacture of drugs. Still, without his work, his colleagues would not be able to produce medicines and the company would not function. So his job makes sense. The project manager himself may also be very reluctant to use drugs, but may be proud of the fair manufacturing conditions. This means that he can still identify well with his employer. Check for yourself to what extent the three characteristics meaningfulness, coherence and orientation apply to your own professional activity. Point four, affiliation, can in turn have a strong influence on superiors at the workplace: Perception and recognition by colleagues and bosses make one's own job meaningful.

Those who are constantly looking for new ways will find lasting meaning

Would you like to make your life and your job meaningful and experience it as meaningful? Then it is important to be aware of the most relevant relationships over and over again. Because our life situation is constantly changing and with it our own priorities. For example, a programmer at the age of 25 may prefer to work freelance on challenging projects. However, when she later has children, vacation times, retirement provisions and calculable tasks become more important. Our attitudes, demands and ourselves change over time - so we always have to look for new solutions in order to see the point in our work. Breaks for reflection are important, but also the opportunity to continuously develop personally and professionally. With the s.mile project, the Haufe Academy is actively committed to making meaning and work tangible and making it easier for people to develop.

Finding meaning in work: this is how it works

New York Times columnist David Brooks and Arthur Brooks from the American Enterprise Institute have put together the following six tips for those who still find it difficult to see the meaning and value of their own work:

1. Connect your work with your ideals

Try to think of your job as contributing to a greater cause. What kind of influence does your work possibly have, also outside of work?

2. Recognize significant moments

Identify areas of your work that mean something to you and fulfill you. Concentrate on these little moments and even unpleasant activities will become more bearable.

3. Serve others or serve your work

Conjure up the feeling of serving your fellow human beings, society or even good work yourself with your commitment.

4. Think about why you are doing what you are doing

Recognize the “why” of your career and what motivates you. Knowing what drives you will make it easier for you to find meaningful work.

5. Be aware of different stages in life

Find out what the timing looks like for your career path and adapt to the speed. If you want to achieve too much too soon, you end up frustrated. Any more experience will develop you professionally, accept that.

6. Don't invest everything in your work

Brooks and Brooks recommend trying to find happiness in all four main areas of life: spirituality, family, community and work. If possible, don't drift too far in one direction. And: Meaning at work is not a luxury. David Brooks describes it this way: "There is no level of income where people do not desperately need meaning."

S.mile project: our contribution to the meaning of work

As a provider of qualification and development for people and companies, we are concerned with the question of the meaning of work. In order to make our work and its meaning more tangible for us in the company, the Haufe Academy started an unusual project in the summer of 2016: With the s.mile (= smart mile) project, we give twelve very different people the opportunity to work over the period of to use the complete qualification and development offer of the Haufe Academy free of charge for two years.

Here in the Perspektivenblog you can get to know the participants of our s.mile project better and maybe learn from them and be inspired. What drives them, what motivates them and what are their goals? What gives them orientation? We look forward to sharing these insights with you.