What is work that’s worth doing in a life worth living? A revealing exploration of the questions we ask and the stories we tell about our work.

According to recent studies, barely a third of American workers feel “engaged” at work, and for many people around the world, happiness is lowest when earning power is highest. After a global pandemic that changed why, how, and what people do for a living, many workers find themselves wondering what makes their daily routine worthwhile.

In Is Your Work Worth It?, two professors – a philosopher and organizational psychologist – investigate the purpose of work and its value in our lives. The book explores vital questions, such as: 

  • Should you work for love or money?
  • When and how much should you work?
  • What would make life worth living in a world without work?
  • What kind of mark will your work leave on the world?

This essential book combines inspiring and harrowing stories of real people with recent scholarship, ancient wisdom, arts, and literature to help us clarify what worthy work looks like, what tradeoffs are acceptable to pursue it, and what our work can contribute to society.

Listen to the Spotify playlist:


“Wise, intelligent, provocative, and ambitious. A worthy read, in which the authors ask us to explore and consider what our own work means and what role it plays in our lives. A beautiful book.” —Amy C Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, and author of Right Kind of Wrong
“Michaelson and Tosti-Kharas have masterfully tackled the crucial question of finding purpose and meaning through work. In a world where the nature of work is evolving rapidly, this book provides essential insights from both personal experiences and academic expertise. A valuable compass for anyone seeking purpose in their professional journey.” —Hubert Joly, former CEO of Best Buy, senior lecturer Harvard Business School, and author of The Heart of Business
"In the tradition of Studs Terkel’s Working, this profound and engaging book tells workers’ stories, peppered with philosophical insights, to explore what makes work worthy. It challenges us to reflect on what we do for a living, why we do it, and how our self-worth stacks up against our net worth.” —Joanne B. Ciulla, Professor and Director of the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers University, and author of The Working Life
“This rich and engaging book shares the wisdom of diverse thinkers, from Aristotle to Dolly Parton, and guides the reader through a series of profound questions about the meaning and value of work. Instead of providing one-size-fits all answers, it presents stories of real people and their work, told with compassion and insight. Highly recommended!” —Valerie Tiberius, Paul W. Frenzel Chair in Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, and author of What Do You Want Out of Life?
“A thoughtful, thought-provoking read on what makes our jobs significant. This book won’t give you all the answers, but it will help you ask the right questions.” —Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hidden Potential and Think Again, and host of the podcast WorkLife
“Whether you’re at the beginning, middle or nearing the end of your career, this book will help you navigate important questions about balance, purpose, and legacy. Michaelson and Tosti- Kharas masterfully weave personal narratives, philosophy and science together to produce an invaluable guide to making more informed career choices.” —Katy Milkman, James G. Dinan Professor at the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania, and author of How to Change
“The first question you hear when you meet someone is often “what do you do for a living?” But people rarely follow that with “why?” This book digs into this critical idea, using interesting and compelling anecdotes to contemplate what it means to do purposeful work. It challenges us not with answers but with questions we rarely take the time to consider. Why do we work? What purpose does the work you do serve? What role can your work play in creating the world you wish to see?” —Shannon Schuyler, PwC Chief Purpose & Inclusion Officer
“An exploration of work that will speak to your head, heart, and soul. As touching as it is essential.” —Dolly Chugh, Author of The Person You Mean to Be and A More Just Future, NYU Stern Professor
Read More Read Less

Featured Articles

Attention, Grads: How to Find Your Dream Job