Meaningful Work

A worker spends an average of eight hours a day at work for a total of forty weeks a year for almost forty years and it is not surprising that derealization, dehumanizing, boredom and disconnection from work can emerge. These can have harmful effects for both workers and organization. To these dynamics must be added that the world of work is rapidly changing. Working conditions (eg contractual forms, precariousness, etc.), remunerative aspects and individual differences play an important role in shaping the dynamics and processes in the workplace. Making sense of one’s work in relation to these and various other aspects (eg employment and unstructured and unstable jobs or individuals marginalized by disability, gender differences and race) presents itself as an important challenge for the worker as well as for the organization (Allan, Tebbe, Bouchard, & Duffy, 2018).

The meaning of work is defined in the literature as the worker’s perception that their actions have a meaning and the personal experience that their work makes sense in reference to their characteristics and their values ​​(Rosso, Dekas, & Wrzesniewski, 2010 ). Individuals have different opinions and ideas about what it means to perceive that their work makes sense. In general, according to the current literature, we talk about meaning to work in terms where one’s work is important, useful for oneself and for others and/or socially recognized as such (May, Gilson, & Harter, 2004; Pratt, 2003; Rosso et al., 2010). Having a sense of one’s work is antecedent to numerous organizational processes such as not having or not giving meaning to one’s actions has negative effects on worker’s well-being, performance, group climate, work commitment, etc. Through the lens of the theories of occupational psychology and organizations, this research work is aimed at understanding the intervening factors in the process of meaning.

The attention is both on what are the antecedents that favour the emergence and the consequences. Among the aims of the present research project, there is not only that of understanding this construct but also of understanding how we can intervene within organizations and on the worker in order to improve conditions in the workplace. Nowadays the processes and dynamics that characterize the constantly changing world of work, leads to the necessity of a commitment towards the worker’s dimension the return of a meaning.



Allan, B. A., Tebbe, E. A., Bouchard, L. M., & Duffy, R. D. (2018). Access to Decent and Meaningful Work in a Sexual Minority Population. Journal of Career Assessment, 1–14.

May, D. R., Gilson, R. L., & Harter, L. M. (2004). The psychological condition of meaningfulness, safety and availability and the engangement of the human spirit at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 11–37. Retrieved from

Pratt, M. G. (2003). Fostering meaningfulness in working and meaningfulness at work : An identity perspective In K . S . Cameron , J . E . Dutton , & R . E . Quinn ( Eds .). 2003 . Positive Organizational Scholarship : Foundations of a New Discipline : 309-327 . San Francisco, (February 2017).

Rosso, B. D., Dekas, K. H., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30(C), 91–127.

Tommasi, F., Ceschi, A., & Sartori, R. (2020). Viewing meaningful work through the lens of time. Frontiers in psychology, 2400.

Tommasi, F., Ceschi, A., & Sartori, R. (2021) Personal and Organizational Characteristics Antecedents of Meaningful Work. InPACT – Psychological Applications and Trends 2021, pp.435-438.

Tommasi, F., Ceschi, A., & Sartori, R. (2021) Person-environment misfit and mental disorder among PhD students: The mediating role of meaningful work. InPACT – Psychological Applications and Trends 2021, pp. 217-222.

Tommasi, F., Sartori, R., Ceschi, A., & Schnell, T. (2021). The Meaning in Work Inventory: Validation of the Italian version and its association with sociodemographic variables. BPA-Applied Psychology Bulletin (Bollettino di Psicologia Applicata), (291).