BUSINESS
12/14/2015 10:14 am ET Updated Dec 14, 2016

5 Steps to Find More Purpose in Your Work and Make an Impact With Your Career

Today's workforce wants it all: Earn a good living, make the world a better place, report to good managers, and feel purpose in their work.

Unfortunately, finding said job is much harder than it sounds, and that's a big part of the reason why over 68% of today's workforce is disengaged.

Even though people are willing to take pay cuts to work at companies that create a positive impact, there just aren't enough jobs to do that.

By virtue of how they are designed, businesses exist to make money, not to help people find meaning in their careers. It's only because research shows engaged employees are good for the bottom line that businesses have started to care about engagement. For a similar reason, now that research shows sustainability is good for the bottom-line, more businesses are starting to work on sustainability efforts, too.

However, while research about the benefits of engagement and sustainability have been present for over a decade, engagement remains flat and companies are still harming our planet.

So what does this mean for people that want their career to make the world a better place?
It means a lot of hard work. In fact, you are more likely to create a job in social responsibility then step into an existing one. Or, more likely, there won't be CSR jobs in the future and you'll have to incorporate impact and sustainability into your existing job.

At the most recent Net Impact conference in November 2015, attendees had the chance to hear from inspiring business leaders -- like REI CEO Jerry Stritzke, Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman, Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Net Impact's very own Liz Maw, and many more -- who provided their tips on how to grow their careers, and businesses, in ways that made the world better.

One thing was clear: people that have purpose should be celebrated. In fact, Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative, shared highlights from their latest research quoting that "If you want people that are good for the bottom-line, you want people that are purpose oriented."

In other words, even if your current job isn't designed to make the world a better place, it'll benefit you and your company if you mold it to do just that.

Here are five ways to think about your current or next job in a way that will help you find purpose in your work, and make a positive net impact with your career.

Step 1. Pick jobs that can be flexible in how they are measured
If your job is only measured by one measurement, like sales of unsustainably built products, than you won't be able to incorporate sustainability into your job. Period. However, if you're looking for a new job or have the ability to negotiate how you are measured at your current job, pick flexible goals that give you the room to create a positive impact.

Step 2. Analyze your goals, your manager's goals, and your business's goals
Look for ways that sustainability and equality initiatives can make a positive impact on those goals. For more ideas, here are 7 ways that social responsibility is good for the bottom line.

Step 3. Develop a proposal to add impact initiatives to your personal goals and commitments
Using the goals of your team and business, propose programs that can benefit the business and our planet. As an example, if you run human resource or leadership development efforts, instead of just sending people to a conference, use social impact initiatives as a way to help people develop their skills. As more inspiring examples, read more about Microsoft's carbon-neutral program, Patagonia's effort to make its supply chain transparent, and REI's marketing that promotes less consumption. Not sure where to start? Take the Benefit Corporation Assessment for ideas.

Step 4. Measure the social, environmental, and business impact of your work, and share it with all stakeholders
Measuring the impact of any sustainability efforts in your job can be very challenging, but it's critical to justifying repeat activities and expansion of efforts. This research from Deloitte titled "Driving Corporate Growth Through Social Impact" can help you.

Step 5. Use the impact you create to forge new partnerships with other business units
Once you start to show how your sustainability programs are beneficial to your business unit, work across your company, and even across your industry, to create new partnerships to help extend your impact.

Before you know it, not only will a core part of your role contribute to the greater good but, also, you'll be exerting more pressure on those around you to do the same.

While it's not easy to mold your career into one that makes the world a better place, it's more critical than ever that we each take responsibility for our actions. Making a change like this might be hard work, and likely even scary at times, but you know what's harder and scarier? Regret.

Purpose@Work is a new series of discussions designed to explore how we can infuse a deep sense of purpose into our work - through our organizations, our people, and our impact in society.

How are you taking purpose to the next level in your workplace? Let us know at PurposePlusProfit@huffingtonpost.com or by tweeting with #PurposeAtWork.