It was September 2016 when this article from The Guardian unveiled that millennials want “purpose over paychecks”. Fast forward to 2022, two years after the beginning of a global pandemic, and things are hardly looking any different. If anything, the endless quest for job satisfaction is truer now than ever before.
It’s hardly a trend that you can only see in millennials; in November 2021, over 4.5 million people quit their jobs in the United States. Experts and analysts have been talking about something called ‘The Great Resignation’ for the better part of last year. But this only gives us one part of the picture.
Let’s bring the focus closer to the creative industries: the WeTransfer Ideas Report, released in November 2021, found that 45% of global creatives (out of 10,000 surveyed) were thinking of changing their jobs in the first six months of 2022. Among the key reasons, fulfilment was a big one: creative professionals want to feel valued and fulfilled at work, and if their employers are investing in anything but employee care, creative pros are now more than willing to walk out.
So there you have it: if you’ve been looking for a purpose for your next job, you’re not alone. But why is that?
Image credit: Colette Huemer
Where is this coming from?
Truthfully, this new rising trend in the workforce should hardly come as a surprise. 2020 was a year when we all re-evaluated what was important to us both as people and professionals. The standards of work have changed. The patterns of productivity have shifted forever. And perhaps even more importantly, we’re now holding our own selves to much higher standards than ever before.
Following the period of self-reflection that was 2020, and seeing how every single industry has reacted to that, it’s normal for everyone to seek change if the current situation isn’t satisfying. And unfortunately, for a lot of people in this industry, things have been looking less than optimal in the past few years.
We are rediscovering the importance of boundaries. That, interestingly, makes all the difference.
Purpose over paycheck
The most obvious thing you can read online is that employers who aren’t being flexible are losing staff. That sounds almost normal to anyone who’s been a jobseeker in recent times. Companies are offering flexible time and very loose hybrid policies to all employees. There is a renewed sense of trust and the certainty that people will still be able to carry on their jobs even while apart. If you’re not being flexible in this time and age, and if you’re not interested in listening to the individuality of your employees, you are at a clear disadvantage.
So it doesn’t matter if that employer is promising a higher salary than most, or the best bonus package the industry has to offer. Cold cash won’t make the cut anymore. And for some, it’s not just a matter of flexibility.
Image credit: Charis Tsevis
Creative professionals are, well, creative by definition. As such, they— we have a vision. The opportunity to see that vision realised and put into practice, the chance to make a true difference in this industry, is more valuable than any generous pay package from any employer. Sure, this is a big generalisation; to some, a generous salary will still be enough to choose a job offer over the other. But to others, vision matters now more than ever.
It could be as simple as joining a company who works with charities once in a while. Or maybe there’s an agency offering you a fixed amount of time per month to dedicate to your own personal development.
Why do we care about purpose?
According to Rise, nurturing a purpose-driven workplace has positive consequences on the overall health of the business as well. It has been proven that, when employees do work that matters, their determination and resiliency often increase.
This is an interesting point and one that is often supported by most analysts, regardless of the industry. Global management consultancy McKinsey, for instance, stated last year that ”purpose is deeply personal, but companies play a critical role in how we express it.” And about 70% of people say they define their purpose through work.
In a way, all these talks about the Great Resignation are only giving us one part of a much bigger picture. The most fundamental truth is that employees are seeking personal value and purpose at work, and employers must be prepared to meet their demands.
So perhaps a better question than ‘why do we care about purpose?’ would be ‘what is purpose, really?’ What is that thing that keeps us hooked, loyal to a project above anything else? Is it the feeling that we’re doing something good, be it for ourselves, other people, or the planet? Or rather, is it a sense of personal happiness, a deeply instinctual certainty that we’re doing the right thing for everyone involved?
Whatever the answer, it probably doesn’t matter.
Image credit: Anastasia Beltyukova
Looking for purpose in your next job? You better be
Purpose has felt like a buzzword for the longest time, and especially in advertising, it rises many old-fashioned marcomms pro’s eyebrows with a simple mention. But that doesn’t take away its value.
If you feel tired about jumping around companies with no purpose, know that you’re not alone. If the next time you have a job interview you feel compelled to ask about company values, purpose and mission, be proud of your intuition. Not many hiring managers will be able to articulate an answer to that, and those who do will be deeply impressed by your curiosity.
Most importantly, if you feel compelled to seek purpose in your next job, feel no shame. Profit is all good and fun, but it gives nothing back when you lead a life too miserable to enjoy your successes. Take good care of yourself and find the right job for you. No one will ever blame you for being selective about that.
And if your current, future or soon-to-be-former boss ever questions your interest in purpose, values and personal fulfilment, there is one key learning from the marcomms industry that you can slap right in their face: consumers are now four-to-six times more likely to purchase, protect and champion purpose-driven companies, according to Zeno.
That must very well mean something, right?
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