Layoffs Uncover Meaningless Work

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Many unemployed workers found that they are making no less of a difference than they did when they were working. This shocking revelation leads to the conclusion that their previous jobs did not matter. It was like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, their work was more busy work than something significant.


Over the past year and a half, when looking for employment, people have had time to explore their lives and to question the value of working in a meaningless job. Perhaps before then, they did not have time to question what the value of their work was. Or maybe they knew that both their work and they themselves were of little value to the corporations in which they worked.

In fact, some places kept people doing busy work, so that they could lay off large numbers of workers without impacting the operations. Such layoffs were used to push up the stock price of the company, such as was done in GE and GM.

It brings to mind the 2002 movie "About Schmidt", starring Jack Nicholson, where the main character retires and later finds all of his work was packed in boxes and ignored. Perhaps your previous job was like that. Would you like another meaningless job, or are you looking for something more in your next job?

If enough people are working in meaningless jobs, where their output is neither needed, nor used, then the businesses get stuck spinning their wheels. They just burn away their share of the bailout money until they are back where they started, on the ropes. But the human toll is worse, meaningless work eats away at the soul, denying people a sense of pride in their work. When the businesses crash and burn, they take away the livelihood of countless people.

This is largely an avoidable management error. Jobs should be aligned to business goals, and have a function that serves customers or generates products that are of value to end customers. Employees need to see and understand how their contribution to the business makes a difference, to give them a sense of meaning in their lives. Knowing how their job makes an impact is empowering, and motivating, which will increase employee satisfaction and morale, and make a positive impact on the bottom line.