Thursday, August 11, 2005

MH - Bored at Work?

Professor Bainbridge has an interesting piece that touches on one of my pet topics, the dignity of work. In "Boredom at Work," the prof cites a Washington Post article that says "55% of all U.S. employees are not engaged at work":
They feel like their capabilities aren't being tapped into and utilized and therefore, they really don't have a psychological connection to the organization," said Curt W. Coffman, global practice leader at the Gallup Organization, whose large polling group measured employee engagement.... That problem -- a lack of autonomy and a job that has very specific instructions -- hits workers from the highest to lowest echelons of the working world. Many spend their days surfing the Internet, writing e-mails or taking care of personal business.

As you know, I've written often about the inherent dignity that work has, and the moral responsibility which employers have to maintain that dignity and, by extention, the dignity of those employees engaged in that work. I've worked for a few companies in my day that try to combat this problem - well, paying lip service to it is perhaps a better description - by involving their employees in more active participation in decision-making. Bainbridge points to some of the weaknesses of this approach in his paper, Corporate Decisionmaking and the Moral Rights of Employees: Participatory Management and Natural Law. As you can tell by the title, this is a weighty subject.

So we know that the American workplace is less than ideal, and that a lot of you out there are bored at work. I really think this comes back to my contention that Corporate America, in viewing employees as units of commerce rather than individuals, has done much to strip away the dignity that workers find in doing their jobs. When someone finds worth in their work, even if the work appears menial, you're likely to find someone more engaged in their job. The work might be boring - a lot of work, quite frankly, is - but there's a pride, a sense of ownership that goes far beyond the pseudo-ownership that corporations try to pass off in the form of stock options and employee committees.

We're taught to view our place of work - our desks, our workbenches - as altars upon which we can serve God, Who created work as one way of reaffirming the value of man, and invested us with the ability to transmit value to that work by performing it for the greater good of all. While profit itself is not bad, the use of employees as mere instruments of profit creation is.

Which leads me to my next point - but that appears in the post below...

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