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Evolving The American Dream – Careers with Meaning

  • Feb 20, 2024
  • Hilary Simonson
  • 4-min Read

The American Dream today is very different than in the past. A job used to be just a job – an eight-hour shift, five days a week, access to opportunities. It was a means to an end: security in the form of a house and enough money to pay the bills. Today, the working world has shifted. The bulk of working Americans is made up of Millennials and Gen Z – many of our target hiring audience today – and they want something more. They are looking for meaning in the work they do. Yes, an income is important but so is doing something that matters. Studies show that people who do work that is meaningful to them are happier, healthier, and more connected to the world around them.

We sat down with Jeremiah Lideen, Director of Spiritual Care and Engagement at Lifespark to discuss his thoughts on what he’s seeing in the health care field. Does this idea of today’s American Dream reflect how we hire – should we be paying attention? Short answer – yes.

“Gallup research shows people want more than a ‘good job,’” said Jeremiah. “It’s a big breakthrough as we think about how we are reaching new people to join our teams but also the types of people who are building our workplace culture.”

Companies today have a massive opportunity to influence people by focusing on their mission. “At Lifespark, we have a large employee base, and our position is sparking the lives of not only our clients and families, but our employees, too,” explained Jeremiah. “We talk a great deal about the way in which we are the place that differentiates health care by helping people age magnificently. It creates an environment for our employees to feel part of something bigger, something that matters.”

Global research by Gallup has identified five areas of well-being in ranked order:

  • Career well-being – Do you like what you do each day?
  • Social well-being – Are you connected enough to others?
  • Financial well-being – Does your economic life increase your feeling of security?
  • Community well-being – Are you contributing your strengths and passions to your community?
  • Physical well-being – Are you making choices that benefit your body?

Jeremiah uses these five areas as key starting points for companies to ask themselves. “Are we creating an environment that fosters well-being overall,” said Jeremiah. “What this research also points to is that your job and your life aren’t separate, now they are sort of one thing. Employees are looking for both a good life and purposeful work. If you are able to demonstrate both, you have a stronger foothold in attracting top talent.”

Work and life have become intertwined in such a way that work has become a life purpose, and this is important as we try to understand the needs and desires of our future workforce. The idea of wanting a good job is inextricably tied to wanting a good life. For careers like nurses, physical therapists, certified nursing assistants, and other health care providers, the idea of striving for purpose is even more prevalent. Taking on a career that’s focused on serving others is something that requires a high level of empathy and compassion. 

“Knowing this, employers have a higher responsibility to provide a culture of both support and mentorship to these employees,” said Jeremiah. “Bigger than just looking at how we hire, understanding the American Dream and what future employees wants helps us address burnout before it becomes an issue.”

The more competent and confident someone feels in their work, the more they’re connected to the mission and values, the more capable they are of managing whatever is coming at them,” added Jermiah. “You learn how to prioritize more clearly, delegate or prioritize work which leads to a higher sense of well-being in their work.”

Do you agree? Share with us how you are inspiring employees…

And if you’re looking for a meaningful career, we’re hiring – visit our careers page

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