Today’s interview is all about Meaning in Work.
Louis: You recently mentioned that meaning is the new goal. What do you mean by that? Aren’t people just wanting to make enough money?
Miamo: I see 3 main developments that lead to the search for meaning:
- To stay on top the Western Nations must focus on innovation, research and development, high tech solutions. This needs well and highly educated, motivated people; independent thinkers and inventors.
These people are of a different kind than the production line worker of the past. And they – most likely – are not driven by money only. They do not just want to be told what to do. Frederick Winslow Taylor was wrong and Maslow was right.
- Maslow’s pyramid of needs is in full swing. Today’s expectation of life and work has risen.
People take food, shelter and a certain minimum income for granted. Our parents often saved for years to buy a washing machine, a new camera, a TV, stereo system etc.
Today is an abundance of these items. Wholesalers nearly throw them at us. They constantly try to lure us into buying heaps of things we don’t actually need. Even low income people have all these items which just one generation back only the super-rich could afford.
For the new generation this is all normal. They can’t even imagine a life without computer and smart phone. So what’s for them to strive for?
- Money is no core value. Earning and making is a good thing. However, it depends how and for what you made it. Making money just for the sake of money does not make sense. We all know that it can’t buy us the most essential ingredients of life: Health, love, meaning and happiness. The almost collapse of the banking industry and the irrational distribution of wealth to the advantage of just a very few made people think. Something fundamentally is wrong here. Even very young companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Google seem to operate for the sake of world-wide market control and money production only. Customer needs are no longer the real driving force here. Orwell would turn in his grave would he know. Big brother…
Louis: So what do you think will happen?
miamo: The world has become global. It easier than ever before to travel and work in foreign countries. The internet allows us to be globally connected and get information instantly by pressing a button.
Many industries or even nations face a shortage of skilled workers. People with high or specialised education can more or less chose where and for how long they want to work.
Loyalty to a company will further decrease. These people seek challenges and meaning. Not the name of the company is what makes these employees proud but the purpose of the project they are working on. More people will prefer to commit to projects, than take a break before taking on the next job.
Those who cannot afford or don’t dare to do so will increasingly add to the numbers of burn outs, unhealthy or even depressed employees. There are enough story of well-educated young people from poorer countries that worked and earned good money in e.g. Germany but decided to go back home, earn less but gain meaning. They feel good helping their own country to develop.
Louis: What do companies need to do to attract and keep high achievers?
miamo: Offer them free space, flexibility, participation, trust and meaning. Employment conditions need to re-align and leadership needs to improve. Let’s talk about this next time.
What is important to you in your work? Is meaning really the new black? Share your thoughts with us below in the comments.