What makes a job fulfilling

Before Corona, who would have thought that people would go to their balconies and clap for other people who are putting shelves in supermarkets? The question is: will cashiers, truck drivers and nurses be paid better after the crisis? And how important is it anyway to find a job that makes sense to you?

The Hamburg career advisor Ragnhild Struss believes that the exceptional situation has at least generated new attention for certain professional groups. But: "Just by clapping on the balconies, nurses are not paid better." In order for more people to apply in systemically relevant industries after the crisis, something has to change in terms of salaries. Nobody could pay their rents purely by fulfilling their purpose.

Nevertheless, Ragnhild Struss finds it important that employees deal with the question of meaning in their job - especially now. "There is a right place for everyone," she says. However, you shouldn't overdo it. Not everyone can save the world during their working hours. "Meaning can also mean that you yourself uphold certain values ​​in a company." As an example, Struss cites, among other things, the way in which people communicate with one another there. The word meaning should not be viewed as too "global galactic".

But now everyone still has phases in which one thinks about a job change. Ragnhild Struss says that a surprising number of people come to her who actually don't quarrel with their job, but with their private life. That is why it is important to first clarify whether your own dissatisfaction is really due to the job.

The danger of self-exploitation

"If so, then the first step is to ask yourself a few questions." For example: who am I? What are my talents and strengths? What values ​​do I stand for? And what motivates me? In the next step, says Struss, you can think about what is currently preventing you from reaching your full potential. "Not every dissatisfaction has to end in a job change." Sometimes it helps when an introverted colleague no longer has to sit in an open-plan office.

Back to the fulfillment of meaning in the workplace: Apparently, more and more people today want to work in a job that they also find meaningful. Every second person would even accept less salary in order to do a more meaningful job. This was the result of the 2019 Xing salary study. More than 17,000 German users of the career network were surveyed.

Tatjana Schnell also sees this as a dilemma. She is professor for personality and differential psychology (with a focus on existential psychology) at the University of Innsbruck. "People who find their job meaningful are much more likely to exploit themselves." There are two main reasons for this. They negotiate less than others who care more about salary. After all, they are not primarily concerned with the money. In addition, many work longer hours because they want to give their best out of their own motivation - sometimes even after work.

"An American study found that zookeepers who did their job out of passion and conviction did better, but they also earned significantly less than their colleagues." The problem, says Schnell, is that social enterprises are now also making use of these mechanisms. "They'll say right away at the interview: Unfortunately, we can't pay you much, but you're doing something good for that."