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 ...view middle of the document...
This view of work does not consider the psychic benefits one can gain from work.
The liberal view of work is based on the individual being able to choose their work based on their own requirements and on how the work will affect them. This is more in line with Bowie’s definition of meaningful work in A Kantian Theory of Meaningful Work (1998), where meaningful work is defined as work that is freely entered into, allows the worker to exercise their autonomy and independence, enables workers to develop their rational capacities, provides a wage sufficient for physical welfare, supports the moral development of workers, and does not interfere with the workers’ conception of how they wish to obtain their happiness.
John Stuart Mill (1859) validates work as an opportunity for self-fulfillment, and encouraged individuals to choose their work consciously. ‘The ability to choose one’s work is important not only because one is more likely to choose a work role that fits one’s preferences and competencies, but because choice itself is a good, an activity “in which man perfects himself.”’(Mills, cf Clayton, p. 130).
Work must support the development of rational capacities, and enable workers to balance work and other commitments, given that work is by no means the only or most prominent avenue to meaningful living (Rifkin, 1996).
Clayton highlights that wages allocated by the market might fall below some minimally acceptable level, because the market is driven by economic criteria rather than by considerations of individual welfare. The wage must therefore be determined by how much it will take to maintain physical welfare, as opposed to a wage determined by the market.
As far as moral development is concerned, activities that incorporate virtues such as honesty, compassion and loyalty create meaning in work. This puts workers in situations where they are consciously aware of their actions and the effects of their actions on others as well as on their working environment. ‘When one experiences their [job] as meaningful, this is a subjective experience of the existential significance or purpose of [work]’ (Lips-Wiersma and Morris, 2009, p 492).
Michaelson (2008) uncovered that meaningful work is discussed in relation to subjective concerns such as self-esteem as well as objective concerns such as the social contribution of one’s work.
This tells that people don’t just work for monetary compensation. Work has the potential to contribute some instrumental value in people’s lives that they might otherwise not have obtained. Thus states Desjardins, ‘what work you did and how you did it will play a significant role in deciding how worthwhile your life has been’ (p 124).
Job satisfaction also contributes towards commitment to an organisation. According to Clayton, internal goods, the intrinsic benefits that derive from a practice, can also be said to include their products, which accrue to the public’s benefit. If these intrinsic benefits...