Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Do you care about your job? No, you know, really care.

Do you care so much that you will defend your company's product at dinner parties when someone mentions that it snapped in two on first use?

Or do you mumble: "Yeah, we cut back on manufacturing costs for a little more profit. You can't blame us, can you?"

I muse on this because there's a certain trend for companies to take themselves a little more seriously. By "more seriously," I mean focusing on something other than pristine clean lucre and the CEO's large cut of it.

Something akin to a larger purpose, for example.

This means that in hiring staff, they're increasingly looking for people who are able to have--or even have naturally--higher goals than mere money making.

And so it is that as Anna Tavis of NYU's School of Professional Studies told the Huffington Post: "The most important objective of any employer is to bring in people who have that purposeful gene, that purposeful orientation."

A purposeful orientation might merely describe someone who likes to push in line when waiting for a train. Or someone desperate to sell you a used car whose chassis will collapse within the next 270 miles.

In this case, however, a purposeful employee has to believe in the higher mission of the company. Should it have one, that is.

This might seem odd if, for example, that employee works for a company that peddles deodorant brands or toothpaste. It might seem peculiar if it's pushing toilet paper or overpriced faux-leather purses.

Which is why you might wonder which industries have the most employees who are purpose-driven.

In figures amassed by a company called Imperative, education and nonprofit work are at the top of the list, with almost 50 percent of workers being purpose-driven. (The other 50 percent are their politically motivated, power-hungry managers, one assumes.)

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing aren't far behind in purpose.

However, in fourth place is an industry that might astonish some: entertainment.

This word is scoffed at--not least by some journalists--as being slight, thought-free, and ultimately unnecessary.

It's therefore slightly delicious that roughly twice as many of those in entertainment are purpose-driven as those in, for example, advertising, public relations, and media.

Indeed, only three job categories are below the ad and media types when it comes to purpose: real estate, utilities (that's worrying), and retail. In retail, only 16 percent of employees have purpose. (So shop online right now.)

It's moving that entertainment ranks above health care, aerospace, and biotech--and far above engineering, the military, and banking. And very far above technology.

Entertainers, you see, aren't merely vast egotists. They're actually interested in affecting the very souls of fellow humans.

Of course, they want to make vast money out of this, but perhaps that's partly because they believe that making people laugh, smile, or merely feel warm inside is worth far more than selling them yet another shiny, mind-sucking gadget.

It's especially touching that when the Imperative researchers looked at the declared purposefulness of the employees themselves, it was artists and entertainers who came far ahead of all other categories--for example, professionals, service workers, or managers.

It is, then, a very tricky business for companies--especially those that market the mundane, even if that mundanity is necessary.

How do they first create a sense of purposefulness that would appeal to a wider human audience? And how do they then find people who can share that purpose and even contribute more to it?

Have you ever sat in a hotel bar late at night and suddenly got into a conversation with, say, a techie who claims to be making the world a better place?

He describes his new app (it's always an app) that allows you to order pickled gherkins, dyed any color you like, and have them delivered by a man on a unicycle.

He does it with so much passion. But you know, don't you, that he's really dead inside.

As is his company.

Published on: Nov 7, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.