Meaningful work, employeeship and well-being
06 - Präsentation
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This paper attempts to clarify the meaning of meaningful work and how it is linked to employee’s well‐being and thereby suggests some managerial implications for leadership, organizational structure and employee engagement. First, it briefly shows the different kinds of work performed for both market‐based wages such as manual work and knowledge work and non‐wages work such as domestic work, charity work etc., and traces the value of work from Marxist to the capitalist perspectives. In doing so, this paper attempts to illustrate that many types of work have become a commodity and disconnected to the essence of being performed by human. Although this is not surprising as many of the manual and repetitive works are being replaced by robots, there are many types of work that are still performed by humans without much regard to their well‐being. The meaning of work is heavily emphasized on the economic value and neglects the social value along with how a meaning may be ascribed by an employee in terms of affective, cognitive and attitudinal aspects. Second, it attempts to identify leadership and organizational factors that affect employee engagement that can contribute to their meaningful work and well‐being. Employee engagement has recently become a significant topic both within human resources management consultancy and academic research. However, there are many different meanings associated with employee engagement and a variety of factors have been identified and proposed for employee engagement. These factors although may contribute to meaningfulness of work, meaningful activity is not clearly liked to well‐being. Therefore, third, this paper shows the link between meaningful activity and well‐being and raises the concept of ‘employeeship’. The idea here is not to develop a theory of well‐being or to reduce to a master value with a reductionist impulse to say ‘happiness’ per se or to any other values but to show the importance of normative context of well‐being and how a work consisting of meaningful activities for an employee can contribute to positive employee engagement and thereby contributing to their well‐being. Hence, employeeship for ‘self‐leading’, constituted by autonomy, ownership and personal responsibility, is advocated instead of leadership focused on employees to be led or to be managed as resources. This paper further attempts to show that some minimal and common conditions, freedom as non‐domination and recognition, for employeeship can lead to skilful performance of employees facing their fair challenges. Based on these conceptual understanding, this paper briefly discusses some implications for management in terms of leadership, organizational design and employee engagement and suggests further research both theoretical and empirical in this important topic of interest.