MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Why We Don't Talk About Meaning at Work

  • 12m
  • Adrian Madden, Catherine Bailey, Lani Morris, Marjolein Lips-Wiersma
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • 2022

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaningful work was already high on the management agenda. Employees were exhorted to find their “calling”; leaders, their “why”; organizations, their “true north.” There were good reasons for this: Studies have shown that high levels of meaning and purpose lead to improved engagement, productivity, and innovation.

But the pandemic has raised the stakes even higher. It has caused many of us to pause and reevaluate the role work plays in our lives and what truly matters to us. Employers who can’t offer meaningful work risk demotivating or losing valued employees — the very people needed to drive organizational growth and renewal.

About the Author

Marjolein Lips-Wiersma is a professor of ethics and sustainability leadership at Auckland University of Technology. Catherine Bailey is a professor of work and employment at King’s College London. Adrian Madden is a senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield. Lani Morris is a cofounder (with Lips-Wiersma) of The Map of Meaning International Charitable Trust, a not-for-profit that helps organizations apply the ideas in this article.

Learn more about MIT SMR.

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  • MIT Sloan Management Review Article on Why We Don’t Talk About Meaning at Work