Employees Concerned About Job Meaning As Much as Pay Cheque
In a highly mobile economy,
workers are concerned about job meaning and not just pay cheque, according to
Stephan Meier, James P Morgan Professor of Business at Colombia Business School
and Lea Cassar of the University of Cologne in an article in the Journal of
Economic Perspectives. For many employees, work may
represent a source of meaning and businesses must start factoring the economic
implications of this emotional connection into their planning.
“In today’s highly mobile economy where workers can quickly move on to new companies, managers and supervisors who want to motivate and retain workers need to create jobs that offer more to employees than just a salary,” said Columbia Business School Professor Stephan Meier. “Income is one part of a much larger relationship that today’s employees have with their jobs. When choosing a job, newer generations of employees – at all income levels – also factor in what they are doing, who they are working for, and how they are doing it.”
Surveying empirical research in economics on the nonmonetary aspects of work and relating it to literature in psychology, the researchers outline four key components that underly meaningful work: company mission, autonomy in decision-making, a feeling of competence on the job, and feelings of relatedness, which they define as the ability to identify with the members and goals of the organization. The authors then argue that economists must update the equation for measuring a worker’s job satisfaction, which traditionally is a function of benefit (income) minus cost (loss of opportunity to do more pleasurable activity, like leisure). The equation, the authors argue, should include a component for meaning, which could be a positive or a negative value.