Finding meaningful work, even in the most unlikely jobs

Meaningful work is not just for those employed by non-profits. It’s not something only the Millennial generation craves. Even those who mop floors and clean toilets want to know their work contributes to some greater good.

Research with hospital custodians illustrates that point. Barry Schwartz describes this study in his opinion piece “Rethinking Work,” appearing yesterday in the New York Times Sunday Review section. (His TED Book, “Why We Work” will be released tomorrow.)

These custodians found meaning in their work by helping patients and their families. “Though the custodians’ official job duties never even mentioned other human beings, many of them viewed their work as including doing whatever they could to comfort patients and their families and to assist the professional staff members with patient care. They would joke with patients, calm them down so that nurses could insert IVs, even dance for them. They would help family members of patients find their way around the hospital.

“The custodians received no financial compensation for this ‘extra’ work. But this aspect of the job, they said, was what got them out of bed every morning. ‘I enjoy entertaining the patients,’ said one. ‘That’s what I enjoy the most.’

Interested in helping employees find meaningful work in your company? Tribe can help.




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