For over 15 years, Gallup has published their annual “State of the American Workplace” report, and one of the consistent features of that report has been the assessment of engagement in the workplace. I’m always struck by the persistently low levels of employees who report being “engaged” (which is usually around 30%, +/- a few %), and even more struck by the number of employees who report being “actively disengaged” or “not engaged” who together account for approx. 70% of the workforce. That level of disengagement represents not only a large economic cost to individual companies and society, but also an extraordinary waste of human potential.
- Purpose that guides our actions from the past and the present into the future.
- Values that help us distinguish between good and bad,
- Actions which make a positive contribution toward realizing our goals
- Recognizing ourselves as good and worthy people
Baumeister’s findings concur with many of the proposals made by Quin and Thakor; including “purpose” serving as a focal point defining priorities and describing why an organization does what it does, and the importance of values in aligning intent and behavior.
If you’re interested in digging deeper into this topic, here are some additional resources you might find useful:
- An August 1st article on BloombergOpinion asserts that capitalism is creating an entire class of meaningless jobs. The author poses some challenging critiques about power and the hoarding of economic rents leading to a distinct stratification of the quality of jobs. You may be surprised by the types of jobs that fall in to the “meaningless” category. Too Many Jobs Feel Meaningless, Because They Are.
- The research by Gartenberg, Prat, and Serafeim that is referenced in the HBR article can be found here. While you may not have time to work through their research methodology and analysis, their conclusion (on page 36) outlines their findings, and suggests areas for future research.
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