When a construct becomes culturally significant — words naturally arise to describe it. The language of that culture expands to accommodate its importance.
In this country, the term “engagement” has finally gained a certain level of notoriety — helping us move beyond the 9 to 5 definition of our jobs. With that recognition, we are beginning to acknowledge that work isn’t “just work” for many of us. But, ask yourself this question: Why is engagement so vital?
Within other cultures — the words have already been developed to answer that question and represent its importance. In Japan, for example, the storied concept of Ikigai, represents our “reason for being”. (See the Venn diagram below, with intersecting circles representing what you love to do, your strengths, what the world needs and what you can be paid for.) In Scandinavian cultures, the word was “Arbejdsglæde” captures this. Translated into English this means “happiness at work” or “work joy”.
These are more than compound words — slinging together “work” and “happiness”. Ultimately, they capture the multi-faceted construct that to feel worthy, we all need to contribute in a way that we deem meaningful.
This conversation elevates the entire realm of work.
I’d say we need 100 words to capture that and engagement is just a start.
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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her thoughts on work life have appeared in various outlets including Talent Zoo, Forbes, Quartz and The Huffington Post.