Being happy at work

As environment, social, and governance (ESG) priorities have moved up the agenda both in the boardroom and society at large, professionals have become more aware of the impact that they – and the businesses they work for – have on the world around them.

People want opportunities to do the right thing. As a result, around one in twenty (6%) jobseekers is looking for a new role that can provide them with a greater sense of purpose, according to our 2023 Talent Trends report. However, the salary on offer still ranks as being the most important item in a job advert, and the number one reason to accept a new role. 

Finding a job that ticks all your boxes is never easy. It is important to prioritise the elements that are the most important for you, and striking a balance between those and the other items on your list. Professionals often struggle to find a role which offers both pay and purpose. Can you ever have both? 

How important is purpose in your next role?

Purpose means different things to different people, and it is critical to figure out what most appeals to you. Some questions to ask yourself might include:

  • Do you want to work for a company that actively makes change in the world? 
  • Is it enough for the organisation to do the right thing by its customers and people?
  • Who do you want to help? What do you want to improve?
  • Do you need your day-to-day role to be purpose-led?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice purpose for the right pay? 

Before you commence your job hunt, it is important to consider what you are really looking for. Defining what purpose means to you, and where it falls in your list of priorities, can help you or the recruiter you are working with to track down roles that are more likely to meet your expectations and tick the right boxes. 

Let’s go through some of the potential routes you could take.

Three ways to make a difference

1. Putting culture first 

Most people want to work for a company with a good culture – and that does not necessarily mean pizza in the office on Thursdays or a fruit bowl for breakfast. Often, companies that believe in doing right by their employees, their clients, and the planet will have well thought out initiatives in place. 

These companies might provide incentives or a payment programme enabling employees to choose electric vehicles as part of their commitment to the environment. Alternatively, they might offer regular charity days that allow people to get involved with a cause that they care about, or sponsor programmes that make a difference in a relevant area.

If purpose is lower on your list of priorities, finding a company that offers additional support like this could be enough to satisfy you.

2. Exploring other sectors

If remuneration and a sense of purpose are both on your radar, one good option could be a role in the civil service or third sector. By definition, these organisations exist to make a difference, and you can easily choose a cause or area that is important to you. 

Candidates are often concerned that moving from the private to the public sector will mean accepting parity pay or even a pay cut – this may not be an option for some people, especially given the current cost-of-living crisis. 

However, it is important to remember that many public sector roles do offer competitive salaries. Additionally, they usually come with excellent pensions, great work-life balance, and more holiday days, which can make up some of the difference.

3. The best of both worlds 

The global focus on ESG has seen a number of new private organisations spring up, all looking to improve the impact of their sector. There is at least one company driving change in almost every sector, whether that is through technology, revolutionary new products, or a vision for a new way of doing things. 

They need cross-sector talent to succeed in their missions, and as private sector companies they are often in a position to offer competitive pay. Many are start-ups too, which means there will likely be opportunities to grow with the company. 

Once you have identified the approach that will offer you the sense of purpose you crave, it is simply a matter of finding the right role at the right company. 

If you are thinking about your next role, search our current jobs, or submit your CV today and one of our expert consultants will be happy to help with your search.

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