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Creating Meaningful Work

  • Date Submitted: 04/15/2011 06:37 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.4 
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In a discussion case about Great Jobs and Meaningful Jobs, Desjardins (2009, p 92) suggests that despite the common assumption that people work in order to earn money to survive, people have many reasons for pursuing the types of work and specific jobs they choose. Meaningfulness is defined as ‘the value of a work goal or purpose, judged to the individual’s own ideals or standards’ (May et al., 2004). Based on this position, individuals do not necessarily place the same weighting on different aspects of their employment. In this essay, I will argue that the claim that some work is more meaningful than other work is relative to the fulfilment an individual derives from their work, and therefore also depends on the nature of work that each individual engages in. Employers have the moral responsibility to create just workplace conditions in which workers can realise the meaning in their work within the boundaries of their employment agreements, but employers do not essentially have to give meaning to employees’ work.   Because employees do not necessarily place the same significance on the potential benefits in their jobs, it is their responsibility as discerning members of the work force to seek out work that gives them the most meaning.

Desjardins identifies two branches in the conventional views of work. In the classical approach, humans are thought of as free beings, and work, being a ‘difficult, arduous, and laborious’ task, involves a ‘constant diminishing of human nature and human potential’ (p 102). Work is therefore considered a chore to be done by those who lack culture and esteem. The hedonistic interpretation of work describes work as a ‘necessary means of obtaining life’s pleasures’ (p102). So work is seen as a means to some end, the end being getting whatever makes one happy. This conventional approach considers work to be what Clayton (2004) describes as a restriction on individual freedom (p 466) and ‘compelled labour that is done because it has to...


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