Meaningful Jobs – A balancing act

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One of the core values of the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is meaningful minds. However, since its PhD’s conduct research on their own, the Human Technology Interaction (HTI) department of the TU/e struggles to determine the level of meaningfulness of its PhD’s. Due to rumours that the PhD’s are not able to do their job properly, the concerns about the degree of meaningful minds increase. The goal of this research is to make recommendations to improve the level of meaningful work of PhD’s by adjusting the design of the job, via the job characteristics skill variety, task identity and task significance. In order to achieve the goal, a gap-analysis was performed. The main finding of this research is that the PhD’s are unable to find the required balance between the dimensions of meaningful work. This disables the PhD’s to perceive their job as meaningful. The PhD’s are able to develop themselves, unite with others and express their needs, but are unable to clearly identify the practical relevance of their work, which the PhD’s valued more than the scientific relevance. This was also visible in the design of the job characteristics. Although the skill variety is high, the PhD’s are unable to identify which task eventually contributes to which part of their dissertation, which resulted in a lack of task identity. This also applied for the task significance. Therefore, better insight in the practical relevance is recommended for HTI department of the Eindhoven University of Technology which can be achieved via assigning organizations to PhD’s or creating more practice oriented topics. Furthermore, it is recommended to create task descriptions to increase the task identity of the PhD’s. In order to improve the balance between the dimensions, reflection meetings between supervisors and PhD’s are recommended.
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