257 Meaningful Work & Disgruntled Employees

Based on research done by Steger, Michael F., Littman-Ovadia, H., Miller, M., Menger, L., & Rothmann, S. (2013) written by Tessly A. Dieguez, B.A.

Do you work with a moody and unpleasant coworker? Their negative outlook and complaints about life and work can be draining, making us reluctant to be near them.

Research psychologists led by Michael Steger examined work engagement, meaningful work, and dispositions of employees. Their findings? Employees saw their work as meaningful if it had a satisfying purpose, contributed to the greater good, helped their personal growth, and helped them understand the world around them. Employees tended to be more engaged in their work if they perceived it as meaningful. Specifically, they found that employees prone to negativity experienced the same enthusiasm and commitment to their work as employees prone to positive moods as long as their work was perceived as meaningful. Employees who are prone to negative moods can still be enthusiastic about and committed to their work, if they see their work as meaningful.

How to handle negative coworkers? Find common purpose in work goals. Encourage and praise collaboration and achieving worthwhile work objectives. Give them reasons for tasks, frequently reminding them of your joint mission. Focus on making work meaningful, then workplaces can be more pleasant environments for everyone.


Steger, M. F., Littman-Ovadia, H., Miller, M., Menger, L., & Rothmann, S. (2013). Engaging in work even when it is meaningless: Positive affective disposition and meaningful work interact in relation to work engagement. Journal of Career Assessment, 21(2), 48-361.

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