Corporate Volunteering, Experience Report, Guest Article

Search for meaning – Why you don’t have to change your company to find it

Happy barista

by Lukas Marzi
(transleted from German)

Whether you manage projects, sell a great product or you are the best key account manager for your customers – we all know the feeling after weeks, months or years when the joy of work diminishes. The feeling when you get up in the morning and look forward to the end of the day. Or when you start drinking 20 coffees at work – just so that you don’t have to spend 3 minutes at your desk. And when that feeling comes up, maybe not for the first or second time, we all ask ourselves: Is that it? Will it go on like this? Is it really that bad?

Yes and no! Neither do you have to quit your job or drag yourself sadly through the office for all eternity. The fact that there are other ways of doing things is proven to us daily by countless people who either volunteer, enable their employees to get involved or accompany a project themselves. All of them pursue meaningful activities – whether on their own, within their profession or as a sideline. So there is hope!

As a study by the XING career network found out, half of all German employees are willing to “switch to a new job with more meaning or social responsibility” despite a lower salary – according to the study. I would describe myself as such a “Sinn-Flüchtling” (means something like sense refugee) and have tried the following three ways to find it again, the sense I desire so eagerly. Of course the tips have no claim to general validity. But they can help you in your not so individual situation and maybe make your search for meaning easier.


Suggestion #1: Search for meaning part-time

Your job is not exactly brilliant but the salary is so damn good! Then see it as financing for everything you want to afford privately. And also, if you drag yourself through the office at times, you can bring more sparkle into your life: get involved voluntarily!

As a survey of the Bundesregierung showed, already 44% of the working citizens do that. Volunteer work in sports clubs is far ahead of the rest, which, by the way, brings not only sense but also contacts and fitness. But there is also a lot outside of the clubs and associations! Offers like nebenan.de are not only in times of Corona very popular (even if the growth rates are currently more than five times higher!) Spontaneously under my postal code, neighbours offer me voluntary German courses, help with shopping or play chess with my grandma. Top!

Once you get started, you will find yourself thinking about your volunteer work and joy will flow through your veins. And maybe you will also inspire your colleagues with your new spirit.

Frau beim Basteln im Ehrenamt
Source: vostel.de

Suggestion #2: Search for meaning in your current job

You may have already tried suggestion #1 and are totally hooked! Or are you working on an activity that could also be of great benefit to social projects? Have you ever thought that your company could do exactly that – get involved in social projects with what you already do anyway?

This is called “Corporate Volunteering” and is not only appreciated by projects, but also by bosses. You and your colleagues can do something good during your working hours. And the company benefits from more satisfied employees and a good public image. The last is always an argument to convince superiors to work together. Besides: BMW, Deutsche Post, SAP, Vaude and many more can’t be wrong that much.

However, such a Corporate Volunteering program is not easy to set up. Large organisations support companies in establishing a cooperation. Diakonie, for example, has its own working group and a guide. If, like me, you would like to support smaller projects and organisations with your business, vostel.de will help you to build up a meaningful business cooperation.


Proposal #3: Search for meaning in a new job

You notice that you are neither satisfied with the part-time sense of purpose nor is your company interested in suggestion #2? Even if an open discussion with your superiors cannot bring a solution, start looking for something new. Use volunteering opportunities to find a professional alternative – after all, almost every second job is based on connections!

Source: Unsplash

Various organisations take care of this, your problem. The program of OnPurpose Berlin offers you a solution: within one year you support two (social) companies with your skills, get coaching and dive into a new world. Nobody can promise you to find meaning, but every associate of the program that I spoke to, found it.

No matter how it goes, no matter what you decide to do: Keep your head up high! There are many people who are facing the same challenges and with who you can exchange ideas about your opportunities. This is perhaps the last suggestion: network with like-minded people! There are numerous free offers, e.g. GreenBuzz, a meeting via Meetup or the regular “Netzwerktreffen Nachhaltigkeit” (network meetings on sustainability). And now all you have to do is to get started!


Lukas Marzi (28) is a “Sinn-Flüchtling” (means something like sense refugee) and has taken the leap from his old business. He has not only reduced his coffee consumption, but now also organizes monthly network meetings called “Netzwerktreffen Nachhaltigkeit” on various sustainability topics of our time. If you are interested in upcoming network meetings, you can find all information here.

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