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What Makes Work Meaningful -- Or Meaningless by Michael G. Pratt, Susan Cartwright, Kara Arnold, Amy Wrzesniewski, Gretchen Spreitzer, Lotte Bailyn, Wayne Cascio, Teresa Amabile, Jane E. Dutton, Adrian Madden, Catherine Bailey

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What Makes Work Meaningful — Or Meaningless

New research offers insights into what gives work meaning — as well as into common management mistakes that can leave employees feeling that their work is meaningless.

Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden

Summer 2016

Meaningful work is something we all want. The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl famously described how the innate human quest for meaning is so strong that, even in the direst circumstances, people seek out their purpose in life.1 More recently, researchers have shown meaningfulness to be more important to employees than any other aspect of work, including pay and rewards, opportunities for promotion, or working conditions.2 Meaningful work can be highly motivational, leading to improved performance, ...

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