The mismanaged soul: existential labor and the erosion of meaningful work

Bailey, Katie, Madden, Adrian, Alfes, Kerstin, Shantz, Amanda and Soane, Emma (2016) The mismanaged soul: existential labor and the erosion of meaningful work. Human Resource Management Review, 27 (3). pp. 416-430. ISSN 1053-4822

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Abstract

Meaningful work has been defined as work that is personally enriching and that makes a positive contribution. There is increasing interest in how organizations can harness the meaningfulness of work to enhance productivity and performance. We explain how organizations seek to manage the meaningfulness employees experience through strategies focused on job design, leadership, HRM and culture. Employees can respond positively to employers' strategies aimed at raising their level of experienced meaningfulness when they are felt to be authentic. However, when meaningfulness is lacking, or employees perceive that the employer is seeking to manipulate their meaningfulness for performative intent, then the response of employees can be to engage in “existential labor” strategies with the potential for harmful consequences for individuals and organizations. We develop a Model of Existential Labor, drawing out a set of propositions for future research endeavors, and outline the implications for HRM practitioners.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Research Centres and Groups: Future of Work Hub
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5549 Personnel management. Employment management
Depositing User: Katie Bailey
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 15:24
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2017 02:25
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/65541

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