Individual Wellbeing and Career Experiences
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Kathryn M. Page and Cary Cooper
Chapter 11: Meaningful work: some key questions for research and practice
Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread. . .; for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying. (Louis ‘Studs’ Terkel, 1974). Organizations need to address and understand the deeper needs of employees in order to attract them, retain them, and keep them motivated, engaged, and performing (Cartwright and Holmes, 2006). Employees who experience their work as meaningful can help organizations achieve optimum and sustainable individual, team and organizational outcomes (Steger and Dik, 2010). Positive psychology has emerged over the past ten years as an extremely popular, influential and powerful paradigm. Positive psychology concerns itself with constructs such as happiness, wellbeing, flourishing, optimal functioning, and flow (Linley et al., 2006; Dutton et al., 2010). Although the application of positive psychology to the context of work has attracted significant interest over the past decade (e.g., Luthans, 2002; Keyes and Haidt, 2003; Linley et al., 2010), more remains to be learned. Rosso et al. (2010) argued that ‘the meaning of work literature is still experiencing its adolescence. . .without yet establishing a coherent identity’ (p. 93). Steger and Dik (2010) argued that ‘empirical support lags behind the claims thus far made in the field about work as meaning’ (p. 139).
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