The Antiwork Movement is a global workers phenomenon. In an opinion piece in the NY Times, columnist Farhad Manjoo described a recent one-day strike in South Korea by tens of thousands of workers. In China, young workers have called for a laying flat movement to counter the 12-hour 6-day work week expectations. It seems many 20 somethings in China would rather tuck themselves back in bed than join the throngs streaming to work. 

Manjoo reports in his column titled: Even With a Dream Job You Can Be Antiwork, that almost 4.3 million workers quit their jobs in August 2021. He also cites labor department statistics that report 10 million unfilled positions. He asserts that one of the reasons for this movement was born during the pandemic. He cites researchers who suggest that a fundamental reappraisal of work is underway. 

A fundamental rethinking of the role of work in our lives seems to be taking place on a global scale. As Manjoo states, “…employment is not the only avenue through which to derive meaning in life and that sometimes no job is better than a bad job.” 

Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning would seemingly agree. He cited three ways we can discover meaning in life: 

  1. work or doing a deed, 
  2. experiencing something or encountering someone, 
  3. by the attitude we take to unavoidable suffering. 

So it seems that Manjoo is correct in asserting that employment is not the single source of meaning-making in our life. 

And what does an antiwork world look like? Research indicates that suicide rises with unemployment. Never mind the supply chain issues and the ability for a complex world to continue to benefit from innovation and labor. The truth is work is a large source of meaning and purpose for many people. The answer to the antiwork dilemma is not eschewing employment, but finding meaningful work. 

Every organization has an obligation to provide for the well-being of its workers. One sure way to do that is to take a Meaning-Centered Leadership approach. Research finds that when people find meaning at work they are healthier, happier, and more productive. So perhaps the answer is not antiwork, but meaningful work. 

For more on how you can transform your workplace, contact us or begin with our book: Meaning-Centered Leadership: Skills and Strategies for Increased Employee Well-Being and Organizational Success