Why Purposeful Work is Essential to a Changing Workforce

The Why Behind PathwayU

PathwayU was built to help students find their purpose in life. Our platform is based in science and academia. Our mission is to help students and universities create pathways for all.

Our co-founders, Bryan Dik and Kurt Kraiger are the brains behind the technology and created this series to help explain the why behind PathwayU. Click here to download our e-book and set up a custom tour here.

Workforce Demographics are Changing

The pandemic seems to be waning and the economy is recovering. Yet employers nationally are bemoaning the lack of workers. There are underlying structural reasons, but it’s also the case that the last year has caused many workers and students to rethink what they want from work.

The question “what would you do if you didn’t have to go to work” morphed into “now that you can’t go to work, what do you really want to do?" If businesses don’t respond, do they risk re-entering the same costly cycle of bad hiring, low engaged workers, high employee turnover, rinse-repeat?
@JobZology says that students and workers alike need to know why they’re working. Purposeful work is the way forward into the future. Here’s why: @JobZologyThis is a question that the Harvard Business School’s Initiative on Social Enterprise has been grappling with. The project, in its early stages, seeks to answer: What does it mean for work today? And how can we support purposeful and meaningful employment across sectors and industries?

Where are the Workers?

There are currently about as many unemployed workers as there are empty jobs. It’s like the high school dance with the boys on one side of the gym and the girls on the other. Why don’t they meet in the middle?

Economists and politicians are quick to point out multiple structural problems with inducing the unemployed to come back to work. In some low-wage jobs, individuals can receive more money from unemployment benefits than wages. Also, many workers no longer have the necessary childcare to physically go back to work.

But there may be compelling psychological reasons as well. I keep going back to a NY Times opinion piece from April 2020 - Nothing Matters Anymore - Except What Matters. When almost everything is taken away from us, many of us step back and ask what do I really need? What do I want?

Yet, not all jobs are equal. And there is a cost to high unemployment rates. Research has demonstrated that unemployed men and women suffer from higher mortality rates than employed individuals. In other words, we literally die of boredom when no one will hire us!

For this reason alone it’s important for students to discover their path early on. For many, the answer is purposeful work. Purposeful work allows us to accomplish something that matters deeply to us and also benefits the world.

The Benefits of Essential Work

By late Spring 2020, about the only individuals going out to work were essential workers. When the threat of dying by going to work felt very real, did you ever wonder why they went to work?

There were two main reasons. For many, it was financial - making the money to pay the rent, put food on the table. But for many, it was because work was essential. Their purpose was to save lives, protect the safety of others, and provide a better life for others in their community.

Our purpose can be found in our interests and values. Work that matches that purpose is work we find compelling and meaningful. When we find jobs that allow us to fulfill our purpose, we find our essential work.

Responsibilities of Institution

Labor economists and organizational scientists agree that the landscape of work is changing rapidly. Remote work will increase. In fact, 36.2 million American workers will be working remotely by 2025.

As automation eliminates many jobs, more jobs will appear in many industries such as healthcare and personal services. That’s where and how we work. As we come out of COVID, now is the time as a society to reconsider why we work.
Purposeful Work will keep students and employees motivated and fulfilled. @JobZology’s latest blog discusses the reasons why this is the right way to proceed into the new world of work:@JobZology

Employers have the responsibility to discover ways to find and hire employees on the basis of fit. When employees find purpose in the work they do, they will be more committed, more persistent, and stay in their jobs longer.

Higher education has the responsibility of helping students find their purpose. Career guidance must be more than steering students to jobs that pay well or fit their aptitudes. We need to help them discover their purpose and then explore majors and career paths that will lead to fulfillment in the evolving workplace.

Purposeful Work is the Way Forward

Upheaval in the workplace and individual lives has created a new opportunity for current and future students to re-evaluate why they want to work. Colleges and universities have the responsibility of helping students discover their career purpose and pursue that purpose through their coursework.

As more Americans see work as essential to their well-being, they will not only be more motivated to return to work but in roles that add value to them and their employers.

Get Started with Purposeful Work

Want to learn more about how you can help your students find their purpose? Talk to one of our career pathway experts on how to integrate our assessments and career matching platform into your career guidance system.