From the moment children start to develop an understanding of the working world they begin to form ideas about what makes work meaningful.

Is it all about doing something that you love? Is it about making a positive difference to the world? Or perhaps the focus is on earning a sky-high salary that fosters a luxuriously high standard of living?

Ideas differ from person to person however there are some common underlying factors that create occupational meaning for every individual, regardless of their personal tastes, preferences and values.

What are they? Read on for our overview of the three key factors that are guaranteed to create meaning in every job. We’ve also added in some tips on how you can integrate these into your everyday working life!


  • Autonomy refers to the sensation of being in control of our own choices. Captaining your own ship fosters innovation, freedom and increased flexibility. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t work a conventional nine to five job, it just means that you need to look for ways to introduce more autonomy in any role.
  • For example, asking for the flexibility to work from home one day a week, working on personal projects outside of work and taking on greater responsibilities will all help to create a greater sense of independence.


  • This refers to the ability to master new skills and improve dexterity in any given profession. In order for work to be meaningful it must be challenging, thought provoking and satisfying. If your role lacks these traits look at ways you can reintroduce them.
  • Asking to take on more responsibility, spearheading new projects, taking on a managerial position, requesting a promotion and suggesting innovative new ideas are all great ways to add complexity to any job.

A direct connection between effort and reward

  • Employees enjoy occupational meaning when they are able to see a direct payoff between effort and reward. The reward itself can encompass an array of different areas, from financial incentives and status elevations to spiritual satisfaction and an inner sense of personal accomplishment.
  • Actively tracking efforts, seeking feedback and self-assessment will all help to create sharper connections between what’s put in and what comes out.

With these three factors in mind you’ll be able to instil your occupation with as much meaning as possible. The result will be greater job satisfaction, as well as a heightened level of overall happiness.


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