Meaningful Work

Putting Humanity at the Heart of Work

Why Meaningful work?

The need to derive meaning from what we do is what makes us human – it’s the ‘why’ behind all human endeavour. 

Yet many of our workplaces fail to consider the importance of meaning at work. Creating more meaningful work places and enabling employees to embrace their human needs at work can have powerful effects.

There is a growing body of research showing that meaningful work is linked with higher levels of engagement (Chen et al, 2011; Hirschi, 2012; May et al, 2004), reduced absenteeism (Soane et al, 2013) and higher levels of performance (Rodell, 2013), so the business case is clear. 

Meaningful work occurs when employees can: 

  • Be themselves
  • Unleash their potential
  • Contribute to a purpose beyond themselves
  • Feel a sense of belonging and relatedness

Our purpose

The Engage for Success Meaningful Work Thought and Action Group (TAG) asks one question:

What do organisations need to become to make work meaningful?

The Meaningful Work TAG will answer this question by:

  1. Exploring and understanding existing frameworks and interventions that have been proven to drive meaningful work.
  2. Identifying additional interventions that have not yet been tested that will potentially drive meaningful work.
  3. Testing the selected interventions to validate their impact on meaningful work
  4. Integrating the various interventions into a framework for meaningful work that can be used by practitioners.

The overall aim is to translate evidence-based theories into practical interventions that are proven to drive meaningful work in organisations.

Our Context 

The 2017 Taylor report stated that ‘all work should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment’.  Taylor argues that better quality jobs will increase engagement and productivity and economic performance.  Five of the seven dimensions of job quality (Job design and the nature of work, Social support and cohesion, Health and well-being, Work–life balance Voice and representation) outlined in CIPD’s Job Quality Index are covered by meaningful work frameworks.

But theories on ‘good work’ may not be enough.  Reviews (Bevan et al 2018) and research (BIS 2012) suggest that closing the gap between evidence-based theories and management practices could also have a positive impact on productivity by improving workforce engagement.   

Therefore, the Meaningful Work TAG aims to translate and distil meaningful work theories into actions that create better work place practices.  These actions will take the form of interventions that align to EfS’s four enables of engagement (strategic narrative, engage managers, employee voice, integrity) whilst driving meaning in work and job quality.

How we work

We meet once a month to discuss ideas and check our progress.  Core members of the group are expected to contribute around 12 hours per month to the TAG.  However, if you cannot commit to regular contributions we are always looking for Affiliate members who can occasionally contribute to the TAG.  We are also interested in academics who are leading research on meaningful work to join the group.


If you would like to join or require further information, please contact Alex Boulting : alex@ebbnflow.co.uk or Simon Kenwright : simon@aoc.agency

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