Filling The ‘Meaning Deficit:’ Why Meaningful Work is Vital in a Post-COVID World

Filling The ‘Meaning Deficit:’ Why Meaningful Work is Vital in a Post-COVID World

via ThriveGlobal by Zach Mercurio

As people return to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should be ready to address a hidden issue: a meaning deficit.

Historically, every significant disruption of how we work inflicted profound distress flamed by existential crises and the search for meaningfulness.

At the height of the second Industrial Revolution, in 1897, sociologist David Émile Durkheim published an enduring analysis of suicide. Durkheim found a central cause of acute mental distress was the loss or change of work. Not working, he found, depleted people of purpose, of having a social function and a meaningful contribution.

In 1938, as The Great Depression relented, psychologists Philip Eisenberg and Paul Lazarsfeld discovered that unemployment resulted in a profound loss of identity characterized by brokenness and instability.

Even among a large group of workers who kept their jobs through the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009, Stanford University researchers found in-patient visits for mental health-related services were nearly four times higher than before the downturn. Feelings of uselessness and worthlessness were the most significant commonalities among those with mental health issues.

Uselessness and worthlessness are symptoms of meaninglessness, a pivotal contributor to feelings of despair.

Unlike these previous challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis of both work and health insecurity intensified by the necessary but inhuman practices social distancing and isolation.

Even more than past economic disruptions, the pieces are in place for distress induced by our collective, unavoidable grasp for meaning in disorder.

And whether we like it or not, work dominates human life and is an inescapable context through which we make meaning of life itself. 

Enabling meaningful work should be a priority for leaders and is a learnable skill.

The Coming Meaning Deficit

For the currently employed, the unemployed, and soon-to-be re-employed, emerging research shows the pandemic is prompting serious self-reflection. 

New surveys show people who can work from home are spending more time contemplating the quality and meaning of their jobs and lives. Many are reflecting on their roles outside of work and trying to determine how to meet all of life’s demands…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

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