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The top 4 ways to make a meaningful job

Whatever happened to the “typical work day”? Almost without exception the socially conscious professionals we interview tell us they don’t have a typical day. Not only that, but they go on to explain how relieved they are to not have a typical day. We think that’s interesting, that meaningful work means doing good AND not having to do it the same way over and over again. It’s human nature to want variety. The good news is the impact sector has no shortage of variety, largely because of the range of problems being tackled and the challenges convincing others to act.

What makes for an atypical day? We’ve compiled a list of four ways to add variety to a job. Whether your designing a job, writing a job description or looking to apply to a job and your aim is meaningful work, you should make sure these four characteristics are part of the gig.

1. Task Diversity

As Lyndsay Oughtred from Kids Up Front Toronto put it “I do a lot of everything everyday”. We’ve heard it over and over again in our interviews, what energizes those in meaningful jobs is the range of activities that fill their day. Task specialization may work well for the assembly line, but its not what fuels creativity and motivation in the impact sector.

2. Autonomy to Problem Solve

Unexpected events are the norm in every walk of life, and it’s no different at work in the impact sector. Most impact professionals are tasked with strategic thinking and creative problem solving to navigate turbulent times. This is partly driven by need and partly by design. When you’re a small non-profit or social enterprise, or the lone company CSR rep, there’s few people to turn to when you have a problem, so our interviewees put on their thinking cap and get to work. The empowerment to solve problems fuels their passion for the cause.

3. Building Relationships

Lisa Gibbs from Shoppers Drug Mart describes part of her job as “storytelling” and that she acts as the “charitable voice” for the organization. The human centric nature of the impact sector means communication is an essential skill, and one of the top two sought after skills in CSR. The opportunity to work with others and share a story exemplifies the importance of building and maintaining relationships.

4. Interacting Directly with the Cause

Robert Witchel from the Jay’s Care Foundation describes one of the most important aspects of his day as working with children and youth that the Foundation supports. Andrea Cohen from the Ontario Trillium Foundation thinks one of the coolest aspects of her job is visiting grantees to see the Foundation’s work in action. The smile on a child’s face or a brand new community garden are tangible examples of a job well done, and it’s undoubtedly where we get the phrase ‘it was all worth it’.

It seems the typical work day is being relegated to the history books, at least in the impact sector. That bodes well for professionals looking to use their skills for good. Not only can they expect to find purpose in their work, but they should also find high job satisfaction in carrying out their work.

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