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Study shows meaningful work is catching up to compensation as a top talent priority

Company culture is catching up to compensation as a top talent priority. 

Conventional wisdom maintains that pay rate and salary are primary factors in determining whether someone accepts a contract or permanent position.  As monetary compensation increases have spread across the market, however, a recent Procom study of over 1,700 knowledge workers finds cultural factors such as collaborative work environments, meaningful work and  flexibility have begun to show increased influence on talents? decisions to accept an assignment ? or to end one early. 

Factors influencing talents’ acceptance of assignments

1. Maximum compensation: 68%
2. Collaborative/supportive work environment: 66%
3. Minimal commute: 66%
4. Meaningful work: 65%
5.Schedule flexibility: 65%
Statistically speaking, the top five responses are very close; however, the culture and experience elements of an assignment are clearly catching up to compensation as a driving factor in accepting or rejecting an opportunity. 

Meaningful work is a new employer value proposition  

When asked about the most important factors knowledge workers consider when deciding whether to accept an assignment, meaningful work was a top consideration. Sixty-five per cent of workers said this is very or extremely important to them.  

Talent across all industries, including contingent talent and permanent employees, are seeking work that satisfies their need for meaning and purpose. Employers who understand what meaningful work means to their organization and their talent and can find ways to emphasize this meaning and purpose will gain an advantage while also creating a more human-centered workplace environment.  

Finding the Right Fit means more than just finding a skills match, it means finding someone who will experience meaning in the role. In finding meaning, talent will bring increased motivation, commitment and engagement to their work. 

Defining meaningful work

So what, exactly, is ?meaningful? work? Meaningful work represents different things to different people.

For some, meaningful work is a job that advances a social cause they?re passionate about. For others, purposeful work is involvement with an innovative company that creates disruptive products or services.

Meaningful work is deeply individual, though a 2021 study about what makes work meaningful identified two common denominators: autonomy and beneficence. In workplace terms, autonomy is the ability to act independently within the boundaries of the job role using one?s intellect, skills, and will. Beneficence is a feeling that one?s work has a positive social impact.

Regardless of where the sense of meaning originates, employees are more motivated to do their best possible work when that work feels personal and purposeful. A recent Washington Post article details the role meaningful work plays in professional and personal growth, as well as the talent attraction and retention benefits to organizations that can build a sense of purpose around their products or services.

To talent, autonomy ? and teamwork- brings the most meaning to work 

According to respondents of Procom’s study, talent wants to create meaningful work on their own terms. The following are very or extremely important to bringing meaning to the work they do:

1. Autonomy in work: 70% 
2. Helping others: 63%  
3. Connection with teammates: 61% 
4. Personal growth: 59%  
5. Connection with customers: 45% 
6. Organizational mission: 42%  
7. Environmental, social and governance: 39% 

Talent craves a connection with teammates in order to find meaning in their work, but they also want autonomy  which will influence how work is done. 

Offering meaningful work

Some people possess an ingrained sense of meaning in how they approach their work, and some organizations excel at creating purpose around their services or culture. The meaningful magic occurs when there?s a match between what talent values and what an organization offers.

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Over the past two years, we have captured hard won lessons learned across thousands of worker hiring engagements by our team of professional recruiters and distilled them into practical ideas that you can start using immediately. The Re-Imagined Recruitment Playbook is a step-by-step guide to help source, screen, select, onboard and retain talent in the New World of Work.

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