The 5 Elements of Meaningful Work

When it comes to employment, increasing numbers of people are looking for more from their work than just collecting a paycheck. Social enterprises, businesses that seek to profit by doing well – in and for the community – are rising across the country.

One of the frequently sited traits about what millennials look for in work is “meaning.” I attended a workshop several years ago, and was presented with 5 Keys to use as criteria when measuring meaning at work. They resonated with me, and I’m fortunate enough to have all five present in my work. The 5 keys are as follows:



  1. Love What You Do:

    The first criterion in doing work that is meaningful is doing work that you love. Work that you are passionate about, that drives and energizes you and leaves you with a sense of personal satisfaction as you go about completing the daily tasks involved.

  1. Love Why You Do It:

    Having a cause that’s bigger than yourself is another critical aspect in determining meaningful work. Why you do something is equally (if not more) important than what you’re doing. Knowing why you’re doing what you do provides additional energy and clarity to your work.

  1. Love Where You Do It:

    Fortune Magazine annually puts out a list of the best companies to work for. Google, SAS, and Wegmans Food Markets, have been on that list for multiple years; Google is now on top for two years in a row. It is no coincidence that companies that people enjoy working for achieve high levels of success. When you love your place of employment, when your work is done in an enjoyable environment, the quality of work produced is consistently higher.

  1. Love Who You Do It With:

    In any working environment you are bound to run into someone who rubs you the wrong way. But when – for the most part – you get along with, and enjoy the people you work with, it makes going to work every day much more enjoyable. Working with a group of like-minded people with shared vision and purpose adds meaning to any work endeavor.

  1. Love Who You Do It For:

    This alludes back to the “why”. Who are the intended beneficiaries of your work? Who are your customers, clients, constituents (whatever you want to call them); and what is the impact you want to have on their lives? When your work is centered on enhancing the lives of others, every aspect of your work is filled with unbridled vigor and meaning.

When all five of these elements are in place, you never have to concern yourself with finding that so-called work life balance, as the two now become intertwined; each one fueling the other. How many of these can you apply to your current work situation? I’d love to know.