Why We Don’t Talk About Meaning at Work

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.1 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. 

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