Here’s a taste of the evidence on the link between helping others and meaningful work:
- A comprehensive analysis of data from more than 11,000 employees across industries: the single strongest predictor of meaningfulness was the belief that the job had a positive impact on others.
- Interviews with a representative sample of Americans: more than half reported that the core purpose of their jobs was to benefit others
- Surveys of people around the world: in defining when an activity qualifies as work, “if it contributes to society” was the most common choice in the U.S. — but also in China and Eastern Europe. On multiple continents, people defined work more in terms of contributing to society than as getting paid for a task, doing a strenuous activity, or being told what to do.
- Studies of people who view their work as a calling, not only a job or career: Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski, widely regarded as the world’s leading expert on the meaning of work, shows that a core element of a calling is the belief that your work makes the world a better place.