45% of people would rather clean their toilet than figure out their HR benefits

A new survey shows that today’s office workers crave meaning in their work so badly, they’re even willing to forgo some money to get it.

Tired of TPS reports and pointless office busywork that goes on and on with seemingly no reward but a broken printer blinking the words “PC load letter” (what does that mean?) So are 80% of office workers, who say they need most of the work they do to be “meaningful,” according to a new survey.

In the recent Quest for Meaningful Work survey, an online survey of 2,001 office workers conducted by cloud-computing company ServiceNow,  it was discovered that almost twice as many workers would ask their boss for more meaningful work (64%) than ask for a raise (34%).

Nearly 60% of office workers wished that their work was more meaningful – defined as work that feels like it contributes to a broader goal. Also, workers were so fed up with menial tasks – which they estimated ate up 40% of their workweek – that a large percentage would rather perform irritating and frustrating everyday tasks instead:

  • 45 percent would rather clean their bathroom than figure out HR benefits
  • 37 percent would rather be stuck in traffic than troubleshoot a broken printer by themselves
  • 36 percent would rather stand in line at the DMV than troubleshoot an IT issue

Menial, boring work made office workers feel like they were wasting their time (47%), bored (47%), unmotivated (44%), and stressed (34%).

More meaning, less money

Workers were willing to make changes and sacrifices to get more essential work. 52% would give up a $1,000 pay raise in order to do more purposeful work.

While people did not expect the menial nature of their work to change, 83% of workers said it was important that their employer had plans to give them an assist in doing menial work.

“Employees today want to know that they are realizing their full potential at work, and companies need employees to be their best. Creating digital workflows that make routine work easier, simpler and faster frees up people to focus on the more challenging, essential and fulfilling aspects of their jobs,” said Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at ServiceNow, in a release.

Employees engaged in “meaningful” work is another way of saying that a workplace has “high employee engagement,” a sign of health that promotes employee retention. An office full of employees feeling disconnected from their work due to its menial nature is not only bad for morale, it’s bad for employee engagement, a major issue of this last year that will certainly continue into next.

Sheila McClear|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at smcclear@theladders.com.