Why You Feel A Lack Of Meaning At Work: 8 Main Reasons


Meaning At Work

Are you feeling a lack of motivation and commitment to do your job effectively? If you are unsatisfied with your work or unable to find meaning at work, refer to the causes behind the crisis of meaning in the workplace.

We often separate our work lives from our personal lives but, in reality, both are intertwined. Our work lives take our time and energy and often dictate where we live, how much we travel, and how much money we have. Frequently, we bring the conflict we have experienced at work home into our personal lives, and vice versa.

When we consider the amount of time we spend “at work” (both paid and unpaid such as volunteering), it should not be surprising that the search for meaning at work is—or at least should be—an important concern. Whether we run a company, drive a bus, clean a hotel room, or help the sick and homeless, our work is a reflection of the presence or absence of meaning in our lives. 

I believe that there is a crisis of meaning at work. I’ve encountered many people who say they feel something is missing: they are stressed at work, unsure how they fit with the group’s or organization’s overall purpose, irritated by their co-workers’ lack of empathy and trust, and, overall, feel disconnected and not fully engaged. The root causes of this lack of meaning at work are varied. 

Here are a few insights from our research, interviews, and experience at the Global Meaning Institute: 

1. People may not know what they want in life

So they just put in time at their current jobs, taking the paycheck but not caring about the work, co-workers, or the organization.

2. They may be suffering

From exhaustion, dealing with issues in their personal lives, such as divorce, the excessive demands of childcare or caring for elders, or various health issues, leaving them with little energy to devote to and engage with their work. It leads to a crisis of meaning at work.

3. Younger workers face their own lack of meaning at work

Often exacerbated by the gap between their expectations and the reality they experience. They often suffer difficulties transitioning from school into the workplace and are overwhelmed by the demands that are placed on them. Working straight for eight hours is difficult for some who have limited attention spans given their upbringings in high stimuli, fast-paced environments. 

Read What Is The Best Job For You? Take This Optical Illusion Quiz To Find Out

4. Lack of flexible work arrangements

The youth of today are attracted to more flexible work arrangements that provide the freedom to complete the work in the way they find most appealing. Some shun the traditional hierarchy found in many organizations. 

They don’t want to work under the “command and control” rules that they feel are stifling and result in their loss of individualism. Younger workers have also complained to us that they want more access to their leaders and are disappointed when their leaders don’t ask for or listen to their ideas. his results in a lack of meaning at work.

5. Lack of respect

Older workers have complained to us that they resent the lack of respect they sense from others if they are not tech-savvy. They feel they don’t belong in the youth-oriented workplaces and miss the stability of the “way we used to do it around here.” Such a lack of respect leads to a crisis of meaning at work.

Once You Figure Out What Respect Tastes Like

6. Lack of purpose in work

Many workers, both young and old, feel that the work is meaningless, lacking purpose. They have told us that there is too much focus on the financial status of the organization and not enough on the “human side of work.”  Many are tired of the games, the conflict, and the bureaucracy. 

Read Signs of A Toxic Person At Work : Workplace Bullying and Ways To Stop It

7. Lack of commitment

There is also a loss of meaning as the relationship between the organization and the worker becomes more tentative. Organizations, with the objective of lowering overhead costs and gaining more flexibility, are decreasing the number of full-time jobs and shifting the work to part-time or contract jobs, outsourcing jobs, or simply laying off workers and doing more with less.

Workers, in response, have less loyalty to one organization, choosing to focus on short-term engagements and then move on. It’s not surprising that there are lower levels of worker engagement under these scenarios. If an organization is less committed to its workers, then workers will be less committed to the organization. This gives rise to a crisis of meaning at work.

8. Emulating their leader’s behavior

Many people we’ve interviewed also questioned why they should be committed to leaders when these leaders seemed to be so focused on getting as much as they can get from the organization. Workers are told that the organization’s stock price is skyrocketing but, unfortunately, they don’t own any. 

They see their leaders drive luxury cars into the company parking lot, reminding them of the inequality on a daily basis. Is it any wonder that some workers end up emulating their leader’s behavior, feeling like they deserve more and attempting to take as much as they can?

With more than half of the workforce not engaged, our workplaces are in trouble. 

Read 3 Tips To Create Conversations That Are Worth Having In Your Workplace

This means that people are not working up to their potential, perhaps showing up for work, but exerting little effort, wasting time, slowing projects, and not really caring whether the organization is reaching its goals. 

Some may sabotage innovation and improvement initiatives or even steal inventory, supplies, or money. They may even not show up for work, claiming fake illnesses or disabilities. All these actions affect the whole organization and further exacerbate the lack of meaning all-around.

It is important to first understand the causes of a problem before we discuss solutions. In a future article, I will explore solutions for addressing this crisis of meaning at work.


Excerpt and for further insights, please refer to Pattakos, A. and Dundon, E. (2017) Prisoners of Our Thoughts: Viktor Frankl’s Principles for Discovering Meaning in Life and Work, 3rd edition. Oakland, USA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Written by: Elaine Dundon
Originally appeared on - Psychology Today
Republished with permission
Reasons Lack Of Meaning At Work pin
Meaning At Work Pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

30 Things To Do Alone — Learn To Have Fun By Yourself

Fun Things To Do Alone To Make You Happy

In a world that’s constantly buzzing, people fail to pay attention to the art of being alone. That’s why I’ve come up with fun things to do alone at home, on a Friday night, or the weekend.

Sometimes, you need to find things to do alone to make you happy because it is responsible for numerous self-discoveries and peace from within.

It’s not just about luxury but few minutes with yourself will help rejuvenate your soul. All those moments by yourself range from quite reflections to nerve-wracking escapades.

30 Fun Things To Do Alone To Make You Happy

Before you say, “I’m bored”, take pride in your own company and start off on a journey of <

Up Next

What Foods Are Good For Migraines? 9 Best Foods That Will Kick Your Headache’s A**

What Foods Are Good For Migraines? Most Effective Foods

Are you tired of those extremely painful headaches that seem to ruin your entire day, and sometimes, days? Well, I hear you loud and clear, my friend. I know what an excruciating migraine feels like, so today we are going to talk about what foods are good for migraines. That’s right, I gotchu!

When it comes to migraines, finding relief can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, but we have curated a pretty impressive list of migraine fighting foods, that will surely help you deal with those pesky headaches.

So, are you ready to know more about the foods that help migraines go away? Let’s get started then.


Up Next

​3 Zodiac Signs Most Likely To Be Billionaires – Are You One Of Them?​

Zodiac Signs Most Likely To Be Billionaires And Famous

Do you ever ask yourself whether astrology might be the key to becoming a billionaire? Well yes, there are zodiac signs most likely to be billionaires.

People who were born on some certain dates and under certain star signs have an ability of making huge amounts of money easily. They’re not just any old millionaires but those rare few who make headlines with their eye-watering fortunes. So who could these fortunate people be?

So which zodiac sign is going to be rich and famous? Well it seems that there are three signs that have earned themselves quite the reputation when it comes down to cashing in on good luck – could one of them be you? Let’s take closer look at this matter and see if your stars have aligned for wealth!

Up Next

The 10 Best Songs To Wake Up To For A Brighter Morning

Best Songs to Wake Up to That'll Jumpstart Your Day

Looking for the perfect soundtrack to jumpstart your day with positivity? From upbeat melodies to soothing tunes, we’ve got your mornings covered with the best songs to wake up to that energizes and inspires.

Waking up to the sound of blaring alarms often leaves us feeling groggy and disoriented. It can tick you off the wrong way and completely dampen your mood immediately after you wake up. There is no doubt that this can seriously affect the rest of your day as you start your day off in a bad mood.

But, fret not, because I have the perfect solution to kickstart your mornings on a positive note with the best morning playlist. Imagine waking up to the melodious tunes of your favorite songs, gently coaxing you out of

Up Next

Why Handwritten Letters Are So Special? And 5 Reasons to Bring It Back

Why Handwritten Letters Are Special? Clear Reasons

In a digital era where everything is at the tip of your fingers, you’d think handwritten letters would be forgotten. But no, this nostalgic style of communication manages to worm its way into our hearts and hold on tightly. So, are you ready to learn why handwritten letters are special in modern times.

The personal touch it offers is something that people just can’t get enough of. Here we’ll take an in-depth look into why handwritten letters are special, and how they impact both the sender and the recipient.

Related: 11 Reasons Why World Needs More Love Letters

Up Next

10 Amazing Foods That Improve Your Mood And Well-Being

Amazing Foods That Improve Your Mood And Well-Being

Feeling a let down? Need a pick-me-up that doesn’t involve a tub of ice cream or a 6 hour Netflix binge? Well, have you ever considered that the secret to improving your mood might be in your kitchen? Yep, you got that right! There are many foods that improve your mood and how.

These mood boosting foods have the power to energize your soul, lift your spirits, and leave you feeling happy and positive. So, whether you’re craving a burst of happiness or simply want to add a sprinkle of joy to your day, read on to know more about these amazing mood boosting foods that can turn your frown upside down.

Related: Mood Boosting Foods:&nbs

Up Next

The Blueprint For Your Best Night Time Routine: 8 Game-Changing Tips

Blueprint For The Best Night Time Routine: Essential Tips

Are you tired of tossing and turning at night, desperately seeking that elusive good night’s sleep? Well you know what? Creating the best night time routine might just be the thing you have been looking for, for entering into the world of restful sleep.

Waking up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated is one of the best feelings ever, isn’t it? Having a good night’s sleep can really make you feel happy, energetic and content. Today, we are going to talk about some of the best ways to improve sleep, so that you never have to wake up tired again.

Incorporate these tips for creating the best night time routine, and see what a difference it makes to your overall health and mood.