The other day I saw this article about the ten happiest jobs. Shockingly, HR wasn’t on the list anywhere. As the article points out, the common theme for a lot of the jobs on the list is that they are inherently meaningful, even if they aren’t always high status or high pay. For example, clergy is number one, firefighters, teachers, and even artists made the cut. These are all jobs that are either low pay, high risk (or both) and yet the people in these roles are truly happy with what they are doing.
The article also goes on to point out the top ten most hated jobs and unsurprisingly, most are high pay, high status, and high stress jobs. Quite a few are IT related (sorry Geeks, you know I love you and all the geekiness you do, right?). Happily, HR isn’t on this list either.
Now, is this article telling us anything we don’t already know? Not really. Who wouldn’t be happy in a job that has a lot of intrinsic value, even if the pay is low? And the same goes for the most hated jobs; stress and de-humanizing work can’t be made better simply with more money.
So what point does this article drive home? That the more meaning we can find in our work, the happier we will be. I believe every job can have meaning, in its own way. It’s doesn’t matter if you are washing dishes or running a Fortune 500 company, there is value to what you do every day. Even if the value is only in providing for yourself and your family, which is no small feat these days.
However, if you are in a situation that truly makes you miserable, then find something else. No one can find meaning at work if the people or environment is unacceptable or if you are just completely unsuited for a role. But that is more reason for managers and HR to take note of articles like this: What we do matters to the employees we support. It is our job to ensure that the right people are hired for the job, that employees understand the value of what they do, and help make sure that they have a professional and positive environment to do it in.
I think there is a lot of meaning to be found in HR when we think of all the positive impacts that we can have in the work we do everyday. So I ask again, why shouldn’t HR be on that list?