Millennials and Meaningful Work

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Millennials now make up a third of America’s workforce, which means that their influence on the workplace and career norms is undeniable. Their outspokenness and conscientiousness are also seen in their desire to use that influence in order to make the world a better place. How many are looking to leave an impact through their everyday jobs? In order to find out, Olivet Nazarene University asked more than 2,000 millennials about the importance of doing meaningful work.

When asked how important it was that their work makes a positive impact on the world, 90% put some degree of importance on it and over half called it “very important.” 6 out of 10 believe they are currently doing meaningful work, which is no surprise, as a majority (56%) also believe that meaningful work is more important to this generation than their parents.

But wanting to make a difference doesn’t mean that millennials are willing to do what it takes to make a difference. That’s especially true when it comes to taking a lower-paying job. When asked if they would take a lower salary in exchange for a more meaningful job, exactly half of the respondents said no – but 68% did say that they would be willing to work longer hours. Choosing higher pay over more meaningful work isn’t surprising: When asked how they would like to improve their career, 87% millennials said they would like to earn more money while only 34% said they would like to do more meaningful work.

Despite their desire to do meaningful work, 39% of millennials say they currently feel trapped in meaningless jobs and 1 in 4 even believe that they exploit people for a living. That type of work comes at a cost, according to respondents: the overall happiness of those in exploitative work is 4.1, well below the average of 7.

So, who’s putting in the work to make a difference? Those currently in jobs that are considered instructional, creative, managerial, or analytical jobs ranked their work as the most meaningful. Manual, administrative, and sales jobs rounded out the list as the least meaningful jobs.

According to respondents, the industries doing the most meaningful work are education, nonprofit or social services, medical or healthcare, health and wellness, and engineering. The industries with employees that find the least amount of meaning in their work are the food and beverage, skilled labor, and retail industries.

 Millennials and Meaningful Work

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