When Adam Grant, a best-selling author and professor at Wharton, was a PhD student, he and fellow student Justin Berg volunteered at the Make-a-Wish Foundation. This nonprofit’s mission is to “grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions and enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.”

With this noble mission, Make-a-Wish is able to recruit top talent. But as Grant and Berg’s volunteering turned into a qualitative investigation, they interviewed employees and discovered that the work can be grueling. As employees help the Make-a-Wish kids, they must deal with a lot of loss, sadness, and grief, which can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout. One staff member ...

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