Too often, business students see little overlap between the jobs they plan to do — and those they consider most socially responsible or would most enjoy.
Image courtesy of Flickr user kadavoor.
Many employees today are motivated by an interest in meaningful work, not just economic rewards. A number of forces contribute to this search for meaning at work. On a generational level, older workers near retirement may be looking for work that is potentially more fulfilling, even if it is less economically rewarding. Meanwhile, the desire for meaningful work also seems pervasive among today’s young entry-level workers, a generation known, at least in the United States, for a lack of organizational loyalty and a demand for a flexible work environment. Finally,
for people of all ages, greater social and environmental consciousness is affecting consumption patterns while also influencing the labor supply. For instance, concern about climate change has expanded interest in career possibilities in renewable energy and is stimulating product and process innovation.
What role do business schools have in preparing our students to choose meaningful work? For a number of years, I have conducted a classroom exercise on meaningful work that is the basis for a forthcoming article in the 2009 issue of the Journal of Business Ethics Education.