13 Jul 2020

Alain de Botton: the changing role of meaning and meritocracy at work

Focus

Digital content team

Author and The School of Life founder Alain de Botton discusses what philosophy can teach us about meaning and meritocracy in the post-COVID world of work. He appears in an exclusive Focus Talk with Investec's Global Head of People and Organisation, Dr Marc Kahn.

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Listen to the full discussion between Alain de Botton and Marc Kahn here.

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The key themes of this Focus Talk:

Part 1: The power of partnership for community goals


What is the role of business in a post-COVID society? Alain says: “I think that sometimes companies have very good motives, but they sometimes end up in a position of kind of overreach and they get confused about what their purpose really is. And I think they need to work with other organisations outside of their own in order to try and achieve multifaceted goals because if you are just trying to do everything within a company, you're going to have a problem.”

Part 2: The importance of emotional wellbeing in the workplace


More needs to be done to ensure emotional and professional development are supported in the workplace.
 
Alain explains: “A lot of the time what goes wrong in organisations are not merely technical challenges they are emotional challenges I know that sounds could sound peculiar, but it's like a family life where a lot of what goes wrong in family life is not just you know, who's doing the chores and where the money's coming from, but it's emotional dynamics and these dynamics can cost companies an enormous amount of money and of course individuals an enormous amount of their lives.”

Part 2: The importance of emotional wellbeing in the workplace


More needs to be done to ensure emotional and professional development are supported in the workplace.
 
Alain explains: “A lot of the time what goes wrong in organisations are not merely technical challenges they are emotional challenges I know that sounds could sound peculiar, but it's like a family life where a lot of what goes wrong in family life is not just you know, who's doing the chores and where the money's coming from, but it's emotional dynamics and these dynamics can cost companies an enormous amount of money and of course individuals an enormous amount of their lives.”

Part 3: Are you telling your company story enough?


Meaning at work comes through story-telling and some organisations could be better at it. Alain says: “Many organisations do have purpose and meaning but everyone's forgotten quite what it is, a sense of purpose is something you need to recharge regularly, you lose sight of what it is, you know. I think one of the things that many modern corporates have to do a lot of the time is to tell their story back to themselves and their employees and say okay what are we here for really?”


Alain de Botton is founder of The School of Life an organisation that suports personal development.

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