How to Create Meaning in Your Workplace 


By Ariel Minter

It isn’t new news. The business world is drastically changing as millennials  (aged 18-33) are quickly joining, and becoming, the main workforce.

Travis Scott, a professional employment strategist, spoke with a group I attend weekly about the fact that millennials are going to likely have between 15-20 jobs before they retire, which is commonly referred to as “job-hopping”. He explained that this is for several reasons, and focused on how millennials are more concerned about working on a project basis instead of working on an all-inclusive job-description (+benefits) basis. 

This perked my interest. If millennials are happy to forego job security for the sake of specialization, then what does that mean? After reading some of the perspectives on the topic, I concluded that the core “why?” behind millennials abandoning security was because millennials want a  job that has meaning and flexible hours

Remember the cost:benefit ratio? The same logic applies here. Millennials are willing to sacrifice a higher income and security for a job that gives them meaning and flexibility. 

It is hard to find a job that has meaning, and even harder to find one with flexible hours. Being a millennial myself, I have gone from a bed-cleaner at a tanning salon to a salon manager, to working for a non-profit company, to finally spending a little over a year at a call center (lasting that long was a surprise to many, including myself).  All of these jobs were slightly above minimum wage and I worked odd hours so I could attend college at the same time. 

Although all of these jobs were very different, I quit them all because of the same problem.

It was this bizarre conundrum: work hard and brown nose a little to make sure you get approved on most of your request off forms, or clock-in and clock-out with little perks. If you didn’t work hard and brown nose, you were treated extremely replaceable and not given many hours, frequently denied time off, and given no grace if you happened to clock-in a minute or two late. If you did work hard, they praised you with “promotions” equivalent to a 10-20 cent raise and piled on triple the responsibilities. 

I was always shocked at how replaceable all the employees were. It seemed to me “The Man” didn’t care about the workers. This didn’t make sense. During my weekly meeting, I asked Travis what the cost is to hire and train an employee (even in those jobs that pay just a little more than minimum wage). 

“You know, I get this question a lot and it’s a hard one to answer. I believe it is because of state laws. In my experience, it typically costs an employer somewhere between $2000-$2500 to hire and train an employee. So, not having retention is extremely costly.” 

I was floored by that number. 

Of course, it is more or less depending on the industry, but I couldn’t believe it! The experience I had at the jobs I quit does not differ much from my friends and family (who all have very different jobs, but have experienced the same problems). This is an issue many workers and companies face. So, why does it seem like “The Man” doesn’t care? 

I like to believe that most business owners and managers have a grand vision for their work. I believe they want to have the best team, to be successful, to be a job that is left only because their employees have been given an exceptional offer to grow elsewhere. I am not so naive to believe that is all companies, owners, or managers, but like I said…most. 

Running a business is costly and presents many challenges, and I am not going to pretend as though I am an expert on the topic (although, our coaches offer comprehensive trainings on team building and conflict management in the workplace). It takes the right personality to fit most jobs. It takes a great mentor to teach and train them. It takes a great leader to make those things happen.

As a business owner, how do you create a job that has meaning for your employees? 

There are many right and wrong answers to that question. I believe that a good place to start is with morale. If you can have a strong professional relationship that is built on trust, you can have the tough conversations without someone feeling hurt (for more on this topic, I highly recommend reading “Crucial Conversations” by Joseph Grenny). 

In order to be a good leader, there must be a practice of setting the ego aside and being able to take feedback from the people you have a trusting relationship with. If you can’t do that, you will not be able to keep an employee for long (especially a millennial).

In order to create a job that gives meaning, it has to mean something to you first. 

If you are seeking a job placement company that will help you find a great fit, you may contact my friend Travis at [email protected]. If you are interested in the Passion Provokers team coming in and hosting a Workplace Workshop focused on enhancing your employees meaning, please contact me at [email protected] or call us at 208.853.8888