Gen Zers don't have to get a new job to find meaning and purpose at work

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Gen Zers don't have to get a new job to find meaning and purpose at work
Danielle Farage is a Gen Z growth and marketing director at a tech startup.courtesy of Farage
  • Many Gen Z employees want their jobs to matter and look for meaningful work.
  • Additionally, the US Surgeon General cited "mattering at work" as a pillar for wellness in the workplace.
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When Danielle Farage was looking for a new role, she knew her priorities were: feeling seen by her bosses and colleagues, having a schedule that supported her mental health, and being excited by the work.

She, like many Gen Z employees, wanted her work to matter. For example, non-binary and women students between the ages of 18 and 25 said "meaningful work" is the first and second most motivating factor for staying in a job, respectively, according to a report published in June by student job site Handshake.

To be sure, Gen Zers aren't the only employees who want their work to matter. The US Surgeon General recently released a report citing "mattering at work" as one of the five essential pillars for wellness in the workplace.

"When you feel like you matter, you are secure in the knowledge that you have strong, meaningful connections to others and that you are not going through this life alone," Gordon Flett, a professor of psychology at Canada's York University and the author of "The Psychology of Mattering" told the Wall Street Journal.

For the young workers hoping to launch meaningful careers, here's how fellow Gen Z employees and job experts suggest you build a profession you're passionate about — from establishing your personal values to taking the leap.

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Define your personal values

Gen Zers are mindful of working for companies that support missions they admire.

To find a role that fits with your beliefs, start by defining your personal values. This exercise can help you discover companies and positions that match your ethos and help you find meaning at work.

Even without formal training, it's possible to break into roles focused on climate tech, DEI, or other values that you're passionate about. Networking, newsletters, and online learning platforms are ways to learn about mission-driven communities and career opportunities, industry experts previously told Insider.

Craft your own job description

A job description is rarely all-encompassing, so take the initiative to shape your role into one you're excited about. In fact, job-shaping can spark your enthusiasm for work by encouraging you to take on adjacent responsibilities you're interested in, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Look for ways to "make new contributions so that your presence at your organization feels more meaningful," Hatice Necla Keleş, a professor in the Department of Organizational Management, at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul, told the HBR.

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Take your suggestions to your HR department or manager to see if they approve of your ideas.

Connect with those around you

Gen Zers don't have to get a new job to find meaning and purpose at work
Danielle Farage says connecting with coworkers and peers helps inspire and motivate her as a Gen Z worker.courtesy of Farage

The importance of intimate connections can not be ignored in establishing a meaningful work experience. Peers can act as accountability partners when you are struggling or need a push in the direction of motivation, Farage said.

"Having those touchpoints with other people and having that accountability is really important," she said. "If I feel that creativity boom, I wouldn't be as motivated alone as working with other people."

Plus, expressing gratitude for your colleagues can counteract feelings of negativity or uncertainty in work and life, the HBR reported.

Determine the reason for your dissatisfaction

If you've tried to implement personal values, connections, and future goals but are still dissatisfied with work, break down each aspect of your job to determine the root cause, the HBR reported.

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For example, if you can identify aspects that trigger stress or anxiety, or people who you feel unsupported by, you'll be better able to decide your next move. And perhaps that change is a shift in mindset or a shift internally.

"People can find meaning from different things within the same company," Farage said, adding that employees should leverage their bosses or internal resources to find new opportunities or roles.

If you still "aren't finding much fulfillment, if you're bored by what you're doing and you're not feeling inspired by the work," Farage suggests taking the leap and trying something new.

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