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  • Tamar Balkin

How Are You Going To Achieve Meaning And Purpose At Work In 2024?

And you light up my life

You give me hope

To carry on

You light up my days

And fill my nights with song" 

You Light Up My Life by Whitney Houston  (Click here for the  song)


"My role is extremely important, I aim to nurture and grow my clients’ savings so they  can enjoy their retirement years.” Manager superannuation sector. 


What is meaningful work?   

According to the research for work to be considered meaningful, it needs to be from the perspective of the individual employee. Meaning cannot be imposed. 

Researchers have found that meaningful work has the following three components:  

Significance: the work has inherent value; it is worth doing

Purpose: others benefit from the work on an individual and or broader level

Self-realisation: the work reflects the passions, strengths, and core values of the worker.   


“Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. Employers need to help meet this need, or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will.”



Researchers have found that employees are five times more likely to be excited to work at a company that spends time reflecting on the impact it makes in the world.  When meaning is discussed, not dictated, it allows the employee to discover the alignment between their work and the impact on others. Researchers have found that many workers want their employer to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work. To avoid imposing meaning, the leader needs to facilitate the recognition of meaning for the employee. 


Dhingra, N., Samo, A., Schaninger, B. and Schrimper, M. (2021). Help your employees find purpose--or watch them leave | McKinsey. [online]


Why does meaning matter?

Research shows that meaningful work is important for positive functioning and occupational and general well-being, work engagement, job satisfaction, job performance and retention. People who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company. Moreover, when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organisation’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others. 

Common mistakes

Unfortunately, many organisations get it wrong. They impose meaning, engage in superficial tokenistic efforts, and ignore individual differences. The repercussions are especially harmful when leaders either participate in or overlook unethical or illegal conduct.

Meaning in life and leisure:

The image of the sailing boats is a reminder leisure and life beyond work is a place to also find meaning. 

Something personal:

I've been fortunate in my career to encounter valuable opportunities that allowed me to consistently build knowledge and expertise, as well as engage in meaningful work. Regular readers would know that I aim to enhance leadership capability and well-being through leadership coaching, professional organisational psychology supervision, pro Bono work in both areas and of course, my blog.  My work with CEO's and senior executives enables them to improve their working lives and in turn, they can ensure the workplace is enjoyable, challenging and energising for all employees. In my coaching, I receive direct feedback from my clients throughout their programs and from their bosses at the end which provides me with a clear indication of where and how I have made a difference. Bringing an ethical curious and evidence-based approach to all my work, and my professional development enables me to work in a manner that is consistent with my values.

In the year ahead I hope to be blessed to continue to grow my expertise, and of course, seek more opportunities to have a positive impact on the lives of leaders and workers. 

Take some time over the coming days to ponder and share with me how you will find meaning in your work and life in 2024.



The Way We Work: Understanding the Relationship Between Executive Coaching and Leader Well-Being in the Workplace Flynn, Briana.  Indiana Wesleyan University ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2022. 29328459 

Dhingra, N., Samo, A., Schaninger, B. and Schrimper, M. (2021). Help your employees find purpose--or watch them leave | McKinsey. [online] Available at: ‌

Coetzee, M., Ferreira, N. and Potgieter, I.L. (2023). Pathways to meaningful work in the digital workspace: A qualitative exploration. Sa Journal of Industrial Psychology, 49. doi:‌ Martela, F. and Pessi, A.B. (2018). Significant

Work Is About Self-Realization and Broader Purpose: Defining the Key Dimensions of Meaningful Work. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 9. doi:‌  



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