Find your purpose at work and learn how to become a purposeful leader

Employees are reporting increased isolation and depression, but an online course explores adopting a growth mindset and finding your ‘Purpose at Work’

Sean Corp, Content Strategist

Most adults spend most of their waking hours working, and a new course wants to ensure workers can fill that time with purpose and value. The open online course “Purpose at Work: A Course for Employees and Leaders” explores the science behind purposeful work, the health benefits of those who find their work rewarding, and how employees can adopt a growth mindset and find more purpose in their jobs. 

Vic Strecher, who has studied the science behind finding purpose for more than a decade, helps learners identify their own purpose in work, explores the health benefits of a purposeful life, how employees can adopt a growth mindset, and how leaders can create more purposeful organizations.

Today’s workers and leaders are facing challenges like never before, Strecher says, and it’s important everyone understands the need to reverse alarming trends of dissatisfaction, isolation and depression among workers.

There is increasing loneliness among full-time employees in the U.S., particularly among young workers. Depression is also increasing in the workforce. In 2005-06, a study indicated only 5% of respondents reported feeling moderately to severely depressed. In 2017-20, that number nearly doubled to 9%. In a December 2021 Harris poll, with the country disrupted by COVID, the number shot up to 35% and was 60% among workers 25-34. 

“This isn’t just a little problem. This is a tsunami, and this is going to affect all of us as a society,” Strecher says. “This is where things are right now, and it doesn’t seem like this is going backward. … It’s scary, and we need to do something about it.” 

Anyone can find purpose in their work, and Strecher uses his favorite example to prove his point by recalling a story from NASA in the 1960s. While many think of famous astronauts and engineers when they think of NASA, the proof of purpose comes from a NASA custodian. 

As the story goes, President John F. Kennedy was touring NASA one day when he passed by the custodian. “What do you do here?” the president asked. “I’m helping put a man on the moon,” the man replied. 

Ultimately, Strecher says, there are three core questions one must ask themselves to determine if they are finding purpose in their work. First, do I feel like I belong in my job and am treated with dignity? Second, does the organization understand and support my purpose for working? Third, does my organization have a higher purpose? 

The final section of the course explores purposeful leadership. In this section, Strecher talks to leaders in the public and private sectors about the challenges they face, what it takes to be a purposeful leader, and how they can manage themselves and others. 

It features interviews on purposeful leadership with Robert Quinn, an expert on organizational leadership and professor emeritus at the Ross School of Business,  Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of small business and Ann Arbor, Michigan, institution Zingerman’s Delicatessen, and Thomas Zerbuchen, director of research at NASA. 

“These are difficult and changing times, and employees and organizations need purposeful leaders now more than ever,” Strecher says. 

Learn more about Purpose at Work on Michigan Online.


Purpose at Work: A Course for Employees and Leaders

3 weeks


Welcome to Purpose at Work: A Course for Employees and Leaders! Why purpose at work? Because most of us spend most of our waking hours working. Many of us spend years of…