STUDY: What Recent Numbers on Workplace Identity Could Say About PR

Gallup recently took a poll of U.S. workers to get a glimpse of fulfillment in the workplace. As a part of its annual Work and Education poll, employed Americans were asked if they get a sense of identity from their job.

More than 55 percent shared with Gallup that their job makes up who they are while 42 percent said that their job was just something they happened to do for a living.

gallup poll identity

Here’s the question for every PRNewser out there: What does this say about the public relations industry, if anything? 

Earlier this month, Laurent Lawrence of PRSA fame wrote an interesting guest post about ‘The 4 Culprits Behind PR’s High Turnover Rates.” Before that, our fearless leader asked the question “Why Does PR Have Such a Big Turnover Problem?

These posts were inspired and necessary. There’s a recurring issue in public relations that can’t be changed with an AOR hire or new clients. Today, PR professionals are searching for more than a paycheck or a trek to quick success — they want fulfillment. Regretfully, that keen sense of satisfaction isn’t coming from spending months or years on the job, so they split looking for those ubiquitous “greener pastures.”


Only one problem with the greener pastures: many people forget that the water bills are higher over there. People are working for that feeling. The sleeves are rolled up and the mindset is different (though the hours may be a little longer).

The PR pros striving for that fulfillment understand we have not chosen a 9-to-5 gig, nor a career where pats on the back are plentiful. Yes, that is unfortunate, but that’s why the work needs to be the thing matters. Maybe the Gallup poll was onto something here:

More American workers get a sense of identity from their job as opposed to saying it is just what they do for a living. Americans who graduated college are the most likely group to get a sense of identity from their job, perhaps because advanced education opens up more job opportunities for them than someone without a college degree, meaning they could find a better fit between their interests and the type of work they do.

Is PR still interesting to you? Does sharing a story with new audiences still “do it” for you? Are you finding the reasons you got into this industry the same reasons that keep you in it? If your answer is Yes to these questions, fulfillment is on the way. Be patient.

Now, if you answered No, then I would recommend applying to Starbucks during the seasonal rush, because fulfillment will almost certainly never be a gift you find in your stocking. Numbers (or previous posts) don’t lie. Find your passion and make that into your career.

“A way to pay the bills” doesn’t sound like much of an identity, does it?