Meaningfulness, pt 2: Higher Purpose: Buzzword or Basic Need?

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I hope you all had a meaningful week! If you did, it could be because you felt you were working for a higher good. Or, as we shall see, it could be for a number of other reasons. Today’s topic, in our quest to clarify the concept of meaningfulness, is higher purpose.

In popular reports, the terms meaningfulness and purpose tend to be used interchangeably. However, in order to gain some clarity, it is worthwhile distinguishing them. As I mentioned last time, meaningfulness is a much broader concept, defined in research as the amount of signficance that work creates for a person (Ashforth & Pratt, 2003). Meaningfulness is the general sense that work is worthwhile. Purpose is the more specific feeling that your work is gearing towards goals and values that go beyond yourself. Purpose, Rosso et al. (2010) point out, is actually only one of several different ways in which work can be made meaningful (others include self-efficacy, the sense of belonging, and authenticity).

Even though purpose is not the only way of deriving meaning from work, it is certainly a very good way. Thinkers from Dalai Lama to Viktor Frankl have emphasized the innate human need to work towards a purpose, and research has shown that employees who perceive that their work moves them closer to a larger goal perceive work as more meaningful (Bunderson & Thompson, 2009; Davidson & Caddell, 1994). When people feel that their work is contributing to society or one’s community, they derive more meaning from work (Grant, 2008; Wrzesnievski et al., 2003). This sense of meaningfulness, in turn, is quite strongly related to outcomes such as engagement, work adjustment, well-being, and (negatively) exhaustion (Fairlie, 2011).

So we have established that a higher purpose is a good thing. The next question is: Has this higher purpose become more important to employees? Popular discourse is certainly implying it. Millennials, we hear, constitute the most purpose-driven generation yet. They want their work to contribute to society. So what does research has to say on this issue?

First of all, there is very little evidence to suggest that Millennials would be more focused on higher purpose than their older colleagues. So-called altruistic motives – the desire to help others through one’s work – have remained stable for basically the entire post-war period (Cogin, 2012; Hansen & Leuty, 2012; Parry & Urwin, 2011; Wray-Lake et al., 2011). It is quite telling to look at the study of Twenge et al. (2010), for example. They reviewed high school seniors’ ratings of what matters in a job from 1976 through 2006. One of the items asked the seniors to rate the importance of having “a job that is worthwhile to society”. The importance placed on this did not change at all over this period (well, it marginally decreased if we are to be strict).

What has changed in recent years, however, is popular discourse around higher purpose. Not least, the tech- and startup world has fervently proclaimed the importance of higher purpose – even though it is sometimes less than clear what the purpose really is. The way we talk about things tends to create self-fulfilling prophecies, and this case is no exception. Therefore, it is not surprising that Kuron et al. (2015) found that the perception of a socially responsible culture was important in order to attract job candidates – especially those that were straight out of school – but less useful for retaining them. The cynical interpretation of that result is that “higher purpose” has become a marketing tool. The more optimistic one is that it has become a hygiene factor: To even be considered as an employer among young attractive talents, you may have to display what good you are doing for society.

In sum, it would appear that the quest for a higher purpose in work is eternal, rather than increasing. But then why is there such an intense discourse around higher purpose right now? And why does it seem as though it has gotten more important? One probable explanation is that within many knowledge-intensive settings, we have a buyer’s market at the moment. The right talent is in short supply, which means that people with the right education and skills can pick and choose among jobs. Faced with a selection of five attractive opportunities, what do you do? You move up the hierarchy of needs. You do not have to make your choice based on pay or location, so you can afford to make it based on a factor such as higher purpose. Case in point: In a large-scale study performed recently by companies LinkedIn and Imperative, Sweden with its buzzing economy came out as the number-one purpose-driven country. 53 percent of the respondents stated that they work for purpose rather than money or status.

To some extent, then, the discourse of higher purpose might be a product of talent shortage and economic boom. Today’s professionals probably have about the same drive for purpose as yesterday’s, but it becomes more visible because they can afford to focus on it. What happens at a future downturn is yet to be seen. What we can know for sure, however, is that purpose is indeed a powerful way of motivating people, at least when you are sure you can pay the groceries.




The Meaning of Meaningfulness

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Back on track after the summer, and what better way to start the fall than by going at one of the foremost buzzwords of current people management? I am talking about meaningfulness. Ask any employer branding firm or HR person charged with talent attraction, and they will tell you that today’s talents are increasingly demanding meaning, and its cousin purpose, from their work. For instance, Swedish employer branding firm Universum proclaimed last year; “students demand a higher purpose”. Young talents today, their report stated, crave the ability to make a difference, both at work and in society. Pwc, in their Millennials at work report 2016, concluded that “millennials want their work to have purpose” – 73 percent agreed that one of their main drivers at work would be making an impact on society. Outlets such as Forbes, HBR, and Huffington Post have all repeatedly announced that any organization that wants to lure the picky Millennials will have to meet their request for meaningful work.

The hype is there, to be sure. But what is meaningfulness, really? Are we looking at a generation of benefactors who want to save the world during work hours? Or is it self-actualization and personal development that people are after? What is – pun intended – the meaning of meaningfulness? And what can organizations do to promote it? That is what we will spend the next few blog posts delving into.

As usual, in order to get behind the surface, we need to gear for a clear definition.  Research on the concept of meaningfulness is quite scattered, which is no surprise – since the term is so blurry. If we start out with the term meaning, it philosophers have, ever since the time of Aristotle, noted that this constitutes a basic human need. We want to feel like we are living for something. Thinkers such as Maslow (e.g. 1965) and Alderfer (1972) introduced the concept of meaning into the realm of work, arguing that the sense of meaningfulness was related to self-actualization.

Since then, a number of attempts have been made at jotting down what meaningfulness at work really entails. Most scholars have concluded that it is a rather broad state. It entails the sense that work is worthwhile, and that you as a person are feeling valuable, useful, and resourceful in your role (Fairlie, 2011Kahn, 1990). Purpose in this context is a narrower concept, usually defined as a sense of direction and intentionality (Ryff, 1989). Purpose, researchers argue, is one of several mechanisms (along with e.g. self-efficacy, authenticity, and belonging) through which the broader state of meaningfulness is achieved (Hansson, 2010; Rosso et al., 2010).

My hunch is thus that the term meaningfulness, as it is used today, tends to conflate several different aspects – each of which I intend to look closer at in this blog series:

  1. The (perhaps increasing) desire for work and one’s employer to have a higher purpose; an idea about a larger goal that will benefit society and/or other humans in one way or another,
  2. The (perhaps increasing) need for one’s job role and work tasks to be related clearly to the bigger picture; the overarching goal of the organization – the contrary of feeling like a cog in the wheel, and
  3. The (perhaps increasing) willingness for work to lead to self-actualization by means of being interesting, challenging, and stimulating.

The repeated “perhaps increasing” parenthesis above might be annoying, but it is there for a reason: With all these three topics, there are some aspects that really are eternal – but also some aspects that seem to be gaining in importance, or take new shape. We will start digging into the first one – higher purpose – in the next blog post. Let the meaningful season begin!



Summer Is Here, and so Are Leisure Values

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With Midsummer right behind the corner, Sweden is officially entering into summer mode. This also means that the blog will make a brief hiatus to grant the author some long-anticipated vacation, and we will be back on track again in August. Before we all go kicking back in the nearest hammock, however, I thought we would end with a closer look at a trend that has a clear relationship with vacation: Namely, the increasing importance of leisure values in working life.

People are often talking about differences between generations in the workplace, not least with reference to the Millennials. Readers with good memory might remember from earlier blog posts that differences are not all that overwhelming. But there is one trend that really stands out as clear, and that is the increasing importance placed on leisure values – i.e., the extent to which you desire free time, vacation, and the possibility to combine work with other life domains.

This craving did not arrive with the Millennials, though. If you look at the well-made, longitudinal research studies that exist, you are struck by how the importance of leisure time has steadily increased since the 1950s. Over consecutive generations, people are placing ever more focus on vacation, the ability to take time for family and hobbies, as well as flexible working arrangements (e.g. Smola & Sutton, 2002Twenge et al., 2010; Wray-Lake et al., 2011). And this begins long before people have children, implying that it is not just about work-family balance. We seem to be dealing with an expression of a very broad mega-trend in society, and the prime suspect is individualization (Lyons & Kuron, 2014): Our increased focus on self-actualization and self-development.

As I have argued before, companies that are stressed about not adapting quickly enough to “the new generation” should be less concerned about Millennials being vastly different than older cohorts (they are not), and more focused on the long-term trends in what we really want from work. And leisure values stand out as one of the clearest. Really, you can think of this trend as taking at least three different expressions, all of which companies will need to consider:

  1. A desire to have time for a life outside of work. People increasingly want their jobs to accommodate their private lives. For instance, with every generation, there is a lower willingness to work overtime, a higher demand for vacation, and an increased focus on hobbies and personal interests. For quite some time, we have seen companies accommodating this by allowing flexible work hours and to a lower extent telecommuting. A current example of how powerful this can be as an employer branding strategy is Spotify’s export of Swedish parental leave.
  2. Wanting work to be fun. Leisure values are not only about hobbies and family time; they have also started to taint the way we view work itself. Put simply, we increasingly want work to be fun (Schullery, 2013). This can entail having access to non-work activities on company premises, such as sports facilities and nice cafeterias. But it can also be about creating an informal and open atmosphere where people feel at ease trying out new ideas – for instance, world-renowned design agency Ideo is famous for encouraging teams to make work as play-like as possible, in order to get creative ideas going.
  3. An expectation not having to separate the two spheres. There is a lot of debate going on right now about whether the break-up of boundaries between work and outside life really is healthy. One thing we can say for sure, however, is that people increasingly ask for the possibility to flexibly go back and forth between the two (Twenge et al., 2010). For instance, having to ask permission to go to the hairdresser or the dentist during work hours is increasingly perceived as old-fashioned, at least in conventional office jobs. Another example is the possibility to take a course out of personal interest, which may or may not become relevant to your work later on.

As stated above, the trend of increasing leisure values is pervasive and shows no sign of plateauing. Hence, it is a good idea to put the question of how to cater for it on your organization’s talent management agenda. After our own leisure values have materialized in the shape of some well-deserved vacation, that is.

Have a great summer!

PS. Do you have ideas or requests for what you would like to read about in the fall? Please drop me an email at – all input is warmly welcomed!



The Millennials, pt 4: What to do about them?


Today, we reach the end of the series about the Millennials – that big generation born in the 1980s and 1990s that employers, media, and consultants all vehemently wish to understand. In three consecutive blog posts, I have tried to scrutinize widely held beliefs about this generation from a scientific point of view. We have looked at the big problems attached to studying generations in research, and we have reviewed a number of commonly held assumptions about Millennials’ work values and work attitudes. So after this intense deep-dive in research – what are the implications? How can managers, HR departments, and employees for that matter, make use of a more nuanced research-based view on the Millennials? In no way claiming to have some definite answer, I have tried to distill some food for thought from the literature and my own experience as a researcher.

  • It’s evolution rather than revolution. A lot of actors have a lot to gain from depicting the Millennials as a tidal wave now splashing into the workplace, since the implication of that would be that companies need to get ready for them now (read: spend a lot of money on books and consultants in order to please this new species). But what research shows is that most of the characteristics displayed by Millennials only represent the latest step in long-standing societal trends – such as increasing individualization, decreasing acceptance for authority and hierarchy, and an increased mingling of the work and leisure domains. Thus, in most respects you don’t have to apprehend a radical shift from one day to another – rather, make sure your organization is engaging in a long-term job to adapt to the mega-trends in working life. They will likely continue well beyond the Millennial generation.
  • Distinguish between attraction and retention. Research seems to indicate that what draws Millennials to a certain organization is not necessarily the same as what keeps them there. Some of the notorious buzzwords surrounding this generation – such as social awareness, making a difference, and value congruence – seem to be more important when it comes to attracting them in the first place. In order to make them stay, however, there is little sign of Millennials being any less interested in pay, recognition, and benefits than any prior generation. Strengthening intrinsic motivation is clearly very important for long-term motivation and happiness – but that has little to do with generations; it is more of a universal value. Stated differently: Social responsibility and good values are probably growing in importance to get you a foot in the door with the Millennials, but once you have managed to hire them you will likely have to rely on the old classic – a nice mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic inducements.
  • Happy now, not later. One of the broad trends that seems to emerge from research findings is that Millennials are living more in the present than previous generations. They value their leisure interests, they want work to be fun, and they want to have good working conditions in the here and now. And although evidence is still inconclusive, it does seem like this generation is also more prepared to jump ships if not happy in the workplace. Hence: Don’t expect them to do years of struggle in order to perhaps get some attractive position later on. Don’t expect them to want to ”pay their dues” at your company. At least not if you are not very clear with why they should do it, and what type of coaching and support they can expect during that time. Also, this means that direct supervisors can no longer wait to act on employees’ discontent. If someone is unhappy with work, you will have to act as fast as possible to show you are addressing the issue.
  • Set a routine for managing expectations. There seems to be at least some support for the notion that Millennials enter the workplace with higher expectations, that they are more confident about their own value, and – as mentioned above – that they are less prepared to wait for gratification. To some extent this is a good thing, since it forces employers to step up their game. However, reality does not allow for all these high expectations to be realized. Managers and HR need to have an agenda for how to manage junior employees’ expectations from day one. In my experience, one of the most effective ways to do this is to work with gap analysis: Set goals together with the employee for what skills and competencies he or she needs to develop in order to take on the next challenge, and continuously assess how far along the person has come in acquiring those skills. This way, you can help the employee form a realistic view of career development and opportunities, while also getting a routine for discussing his or her development at work.

To conclude, it is clear that the Millennial generation does bring some changes to the workplace – and most of them are for the better. This generation seems to be better than previous ones at demanding management practices that are already known to be effective, such as frequent feedback, swift interventions to remedy work environment problems, and a focus on providing engaging tasks. At the same time, we have learnt that reality is a lot more nuanced than the image often painted in the media: These people still place a lot of value on pay and benefits, they are no more intrinsically driven than previous generations and we are not sure that they are less interested in job security than their predecessors. And also remember: The Millennials are still young. As they increasingly enter their childrearing and family years, some work values – albeit not all – are likely to evolve too.



The Millennials, pt 3: Do They Have an Attitude or What?


Welcome back for our third plunge into the topic of Millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s that management consultants and business book authors cannot not seem to get enough of. In this series, I have already pointed out the problems with studying generations and scrutinized some common statements about this group’s work-related values. Today, we are moving on to work attitudes: Ways of functioning when in the actual workplace. Just like last time, I have listed some often-heard statements about this generation and then looked to research to see how well they hold up. I also use some findings from my own research.

”Millennials are more entitled and demanding than previous generations.” There is some support for this almost classical rant. The Millennials rate their self-confidence and general self-esteem as higher than previous generations (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). They also to a higher extent expect to hold a high-status job in the future, and rate their skill level as higher than previous generations (Twenge & Campbell, 2012). According to some sources, there has also been an increase in narcissism scores for successive generations, the Millennials scoring the highest so far (Stewart & Bernhardt, 2010; Twenge & Campbell, 2008) – at least among Americans. In other words, there might be some truth to the claim that Millennials are more confident and demanding in the workplace. However, it is important to note that no studies seem to have looked at actual behavior at work; they are all based on self-report measures. In other words, we do not know exactly how these self-perceptions translate into action.

”Millennials are less committed and loyal to the organization”. Researchers disagree on whether there are reliable differences in commitment, i.e., the felt bond to one’s employer, between Millennials and previous generations. A number of studies have shown declining commitment over generations (e.g. Brunetto, Farr-Wharton, & Shacklock, 2012; Lub et al., 2012). However, these studies have all been cross-sectional, i.e., just surveying all age groups at one point in time. Costanza et al. (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of 20 studies, and found that generational belonging had little explanatory power for commitment differences. Instead, they argued that the differences that they saw were due to the age effect: Older and more tenured workers tend to be more committed to their jobs (Mathieu and Zajac, 1990). When it comes to loyalty, the tendency seems to be somewhat clearer: Intention to quit is rising with consecutive generations (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). More research is clearly needed in this area, though, since it is difficult to know if this development is due to an attitude change among Millennials or structural changes in the job market.

”Millennials are individualists and not interested in teamwork”. Even though there is definitely truth to the claim about rising levels of individualism in a broad sense, there is very little evidence supporting the idea that Millennials should be less cooperative than previous cohorts. Researchers do not seem to have found any reliable differences in the importance that different generations place on teamwork (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). Studies have found, however, that disinterest in teamwork is a common stereotype held about Millennials among older generations (Lester et al., 2012).

In sum, we again find that some claims about the Millennials hold up better than others in the face of research. There is some support for the notion that Millennials demand more of their employer, and the readiness to quit one’s job seems to be on the rise. However, we do not know if this really is an effect of changed attitudes among Millennials, or rather an effect of changing job markets and work environments. The fact that there is little clear evidence for changes in organizational commitment may tell us that Millennials are not necessarily less attached to their organizations than previous generations.

So, we have now covered both Millennials’ work values and attitudes in the workplace. After this, I think we can consider ourselves covered on the main strokes of existing research – so in our next and final part of the series I will turn to the neat task of drawing out some practical implications for management and HR from this rather complex picture.



The Millennials, pt 2: Do They Really Want Other Things?


So, we are back to the subject of the Millennials – the now almost mythical generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, who are said to have completely different attitudes and preferences in work life than previous cohorts. Last time, we concluded that researching generations is a really tricky business. Nevertheless, studies are now amassing on how what distinguishes the Millennials. This research, I quickly noted, presents a far more nuanced and complex picture of this generation than that portrayed in the media. In fact, there were so many interesting aspects to this research that I decided to split the review into two blog posts. In today’s chapter, we will start out by looking at work values, i.e., what people see as important in a job and an employer. We will simply go through some commonly held assumptions about the Millennials, to see how they hold up to scientific scrutiny. I also added some reflections based on findings from my own studies of young talents towards the end.

”Millennials value challenge and stimulation above salary and advancement”. This very common claim only receives mixed support in research – it is even partly contradicted. Parry and Urwin (2011) in their review of the literature found that there is quite little solid evidence for generational differences in these values. Some trends can be spotted, however. If we start by looking at the so-called extrinsic values, i.e. salary, rewards, recognition, and advancement, Lyons and Kuron’s (2014) review showed that these values gained in importance up until the mid-90s, and then dropped off. This indicates that the Millennials are somewhat less focused on extrinsic values than was Generation X (born approximately 1961-1980), but still value them more than did the Baby Boomers (born approximately 1945-1960). Hanssen and Leuty (2012), however, found that compensation had gained in importance among Millennials, while advancement was seen as less important. Some studies have also found that salary becomes more important to Millennials as they go from being students to entering the workforce (Kuron et al., 2015). As for the so-called intrinsic values, such as challenge, stimulation, and interesting tasks, they have remained stable over the years (Wray-Lake et al., 2011). There is little evidence to suggest that they would be more important to Millennials than to prior generations.

”Millennials value work-life balance more than previous generations”. Here research is more supportive. In the midst of all the uncertain findings about work values’ evolvement over time, one trend stands out as clear: People value their leisure time more and more, while the centrality of work in our lives decreases. According to Lyons and Kuron (2014), all the large studies available indicate that the Millennials is the generation that values work-life balance the most so far. For instance, they are not prepared to work as long hours as previous generations (e.g. Cogin, 2012). However, the increase in leisure values is a long-term, ongoing trend, not a radical shift arriving with the Millennials.

”Millennials are more concerned with their work being meaningful.” This rather fuzzy statement is often heard in the media. Its accuracy depends, of course, on what you put in the word ”meaningful”. As mentioned above, the evidence does not support the idea that Millennials would be more intrinsically driven than prior generations. However, there are some indications that Millennials are more concerned with work aligning with their personal values (Weeks et al., 2016), although this evidence is not conclusive. If we are talking about meaningfulness as helping others through one’s work, this value has remained stable over the generations (Lyons & Kuron, 2014). In an interesting study, however, Kuron et al. (2015) showed that meaningfulness as in socially responsible organization and a non-hierarchical work environment seemed to be more important in the recruitment phase than during employment. In other words, it might be that ”meaningfulness” has become central to Millennials when choosing an employer, but once they are hired, they are rather driven by other things. Another possible explanation for the meaningfulness hype, according to Schullery (2013), could be that the above-mentioned increase in leisure values spills over to working life: Millennials want work, just like spare time, to be fun. Having to work with less exciting tasks will then seem disengaging and thus meaningless.

To summarize, research only partly supports the claim that Millennials have substantially different work values compared to their older colleagues. For certain, the simple extrinsic-intrinsic scale does not get us far if we want to understand what is happening. Pay, benefits and a comfortable life still matter a lot to the Millennials, and intrinsic drivers are as important as ever. What seems to be the major development, rather, is the increase in leisure values – apparent both in the form of demands for work-life balance and a stronger urge for ”having fun” also at work.

Regarding the concept of meaningfulness, I do believe there is something there, although it has not really been pinned down by research yet. Over the last two years, me and my colleagues have conducted a comprehensive interview study with a large number of young professionals selected as talents in their companies. One thing that comes across as central when we ask them about their work values is to get to work with ”the whole picture”: They are allergic to the idea of being a cog in the weel and want to understand exactly how their work fits into the larger scheme of things. They want to know the purpose of what they are doing (maybe Generation Y as in ”why” is not such a bad term after all!). That purpose does not have to be to save the world – but it has to be clear and make sense. When defined in this way, it is possible that we may talk about meaningfulness as a defining work value of this young generation.

So, that was the somewhat more complex picture of what Millennials seem to want out of work. But what happens once they actually enter into the workplace? That is what we will try to find out in the next blog post, where we take a look at generational differences in attitudes at work.

The Millennials, pt 1: What Is Real About a Generation?

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For the last decade or so, the Millennials – or Generation Me, or Generation Y – has been a beloved subject in popular Management and HR press. People born roughly between early 1980s and late 1990s, it has been said, are entering working life with values and attitudes completely different from previous cohorts. They are socially conscious, creative, and they demand a sense of higher purpose as well as frequent feedback and flexibility at work.

No doubt, the Millennials concept has been a big commercial success, since it implies that organizations must invest heavily in adapting to these allegedly creative but high-maintenance youngsters. But the question is: How much of what we hear about the Millennials is actually real, in the sense that it it backed up by research? That is the question I will try to address in a series of four posts (when looking into the issue it quickly became clear that this subject would need its space).

Before we dive into concrete research findings in the next blog post, let us take a step back and look at the generation concept – a highly controversial one in psychology. Actually, this is an incredibly tricky phenomenon to study scientifically. Right away, you run into the so-called age-cohort confound: The difficulty in deciding whether a certain effect is due to a group’s current age, or to their generation membership. To illustrate this, let us say we are interested in people’s willingness to take risks in their career. We distribute a survey on the topic among one group of 25-year-olds (Millennials) and one group of 60-year-olds (Baby Boomers). The results show that the 25-year-olds are more willing to take risks than the 60-year-olds. Does this mean that we have established that the Millennial generation is more prone to risk-taking than Baby Boomers? Not really. The difference might just as well be due to the fact that the Baby Boomers simply are older, and older people tend to be more risk averse in general. How do we know that the Baby Boomers were not just as risk-prone at 25? The point is; if you just survey different age groups at a single point in time, you can never really decide between these two explanations.

Unfortunately, most of the generation research has been carried out just like that (i.e., with cross-sectional design). What you need to do if you really want to say something about generational differences is to follow several age groups in parallel over an extended period of time, preferably many years. Up until recently such studies have been relatively scarce, not least due to cost- and practical issues, but now they are fortunately increasing in number.

The difficulties in studying generations have made some researchers claim that the whole concept is useless as a scientific term. Notably, David P. Costanza and colleagues (e.g. 2012; 2015) at George Washington University has argued that most of the characteristics we attribute to the Millennial generation are really age effects. Put simply: The things people say are typical of the Millennials are just due to the fact that they are still young. Most young people, regardless of generation, value flexibility, challenge, and opportunities to be creative. As we grow older, we tend to shift towards a focus on e.g. stability and security. However, far from everyone agrees with this perspective, and there is a growing research base actually finding differences between generations in the workplace.

In sum, ”generation” and ”Millennials” are clearly controversial topics from a scientific perspective. Even if research is now picking up speed, we need to interpret any evidence about the Millennials with caution. That being said, I will anyhow make an attempt in the next few blog posts to summarize the findings to date – and the conclusions that can be drawn.



And so It Begins

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Well here we are, finally – welcome to my blog! For so long, I have wanted to have my own outlet for writing about all the pressing issues that I encounter daily within the broad and fascinating of Industrial-Organizational (I/O) Psychology and Human Resource Management. At last, I got down to action and set it up.

A few words about myself: I am a psychologist, educated at Uppsala University, but nowadays you will find me at Stockholm School of Economics where I am doing my PhD at the Department of Management and Organization. I have a background working in consultancy, both with psychometric testing and with broad organizational development based on psychological research. Today, I focus mainly on my research, which centers on Talent Management and its effects on employees.

Ever since my early days as a Psychology student, I hold a strong fascination for almost everything concerning the human being at work: How the individual interacts with the organization, what makes us motivated and engaged at work, what causes stress, what determines success… I also strongly believe that the knowledge produced by research could be put to much better use in organizations if it only reached out, and equally that research often should be much better at joining forces with practitioners.

So, what can you expect from this blog? First and foremost, I will try to provide research-based depth to current topics within HRM, Talent Management, and related topics in I/O psychology. I will try to reach behind some current buzzwords and trends to offer a nuanced perspective. As often as I can, I will try to use my own experiences as a researcher, drawing studies I conduct and conversations I have with highly competent practitioners out there.

Of course, I am also highly interested in finding out what you would like to read about: Do you want a scrutiny of the latest management hype? A “how-to” on improving work engagement? A talent development special? Do not hesitate to drop me an email at .

So, with no further ado – let’s get this blog party started and dive into the fascinating psychology of work!