6 Things that Makes a Job 'Great'

Previously I've written that if an employee feels that at least two out of three key factors are met in the workplace, then they're likely to stay in their role with their existing employer. Recently, I also wrote about the first key job retention factor, being what makes a great boss

Today I look at the second key job retention factor, being what is it that makes a job great, that is, what makes someone say 'I really like my work'!


1. Vocational Work

When you perform work that feels like it was what you were born to do, you're probably doing vocational work. For some people, they've studied and trained their way into the position they've aspired to do at school; for others, it may feel like they've just lucked into the role of their dreams. When you successfully work to your vocation you enjoy what you do, get good results and receive good feedback.

2. Lifestyle Work

When work does not have primacy in your life, when it's utilitarian, then it needs to accommodate other priorities, such as health, family, education, travel or a desire to scale back towards retirement. If your job allows you to live and support the life you want to live, then you might describe it as  'the perfect job for now'. That is because it offers reduced or flexible hours, ability to work from home, you can leave work behind when you close the door, or complements subjects or study workload.

3. Professional Development

There are times when we need to develop skills beyond our natural interests/talent in order to progress our career. For example, if you work in a corporate environment, you may have nailed sales, marketing and people development but have had limited exposure to finance and compliance. In order to round out your experience for future promotion, you might take on a project or secondment, well outside your technical comfort zone, in order to broaden your knowledge of the business. Whilst you don't necessarily enjoy the work, you see it as a decision within your control and an important opportunity for professional growth.

4. Personal Need

This is when the nature of the work suits a personal need - for example high or low sociability, teamwork or autonomy, variety or focus, project or functional, strategy or operational. The ability to work in an environment that meets your personal work style preference is often the fundamental reason for loving your work.

5. 'Flow'

'Flow' is that wonderful, trancelike state you go into when you become completely involved in what you are doing. It's an energising, peak work experience.  The ability to immerse yourself in your work, and having opportunities for this to occur regularly, makes work incredibly enjoyable. This 'flow' sensation is not to be confused with boring, late-making/taking over 'busy' work - to learn more about 'Flow' check out Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's TED talk.

6. Purpose and Meaning

This is where you objectively recognise that the work you do has a unique and meaningful purpose, and also that you are uniquely qualified to perform this work. Purpose, meaning and unique contribution creates enormous job satisfaction and a strong sense of personal pride.

There's a theme running through these 6 groupings - have you picked what it is?


The employee decides
whether a job is great (or not)!


Take-out for the employee - if you don't like the actual work, fundamentally that's your problem - it's unlikely the employer can do anything to help you change how you feel about it (unless it's building in flexibility).

Take out for employer - when you're presenting an opportunity to a potential employee be open about what the role entails, and thoughtful about your assessment of the employee's interest in the role. Just because someone has the skills and experience to perform the role, doesn't mean that they will enjoy doing the role.

For both employee and employer - recognise the probation period as an opportunity for both parties to assess the employee's depth of interest in performing the work - with a mutual goal being that the employee comes to see it as 'a great job'.

Next month I'll talk about the final key job retention factor, being 'Salary'.