Well-being at work research awarded $500,000 Lilly grant

Author: Carol Elliott

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University of Notre Dame Management Professor Matt Bloom was awarded a five-year, $500,000 Lilly Endowment grant to study the notion of well-being at work among people in the caring professions. The project, “Flourishing in Ministry,” involves a longitudinal study of a group of Indiana clergy from 10 denominations and their families in order to discover what makes work life-enriching rather than a depleting experience.

“We want to understand well-being at a really deep level, rather than just forming a few survey questions,” said Bloom. “We are trying to form theory around what constitutes well-being at work. What are the factors that shape it? What are the outcomes?”

Bloom and fellow researchers Robert Bretz of Notre Dames Mendoza College of Business and Amy Colbert of the University of Iowa hope to be able to answer questions such as what constitutes a calling, and why people lose the sense of being called. While the initial studies pertain to clergy, Bloom said their findings should have general applications.

“We thought if we can understand it there, where people tend to get into the profession because they felt like there was something deep and meaningful in it for them, that’s a great place to start to try to understand well-being in other occupations,” said Bloom.

The research relates to business in general because of the growing awareness that the workplace can provide a person with a sense of personal fulfillment and meaning, said Bloom.

“Flourishing in Ministry,” began in January 2010, will comprise three types of research – observation, in-depth interviews and longitudinal studies of family members. The researchers plan to produce a number of academic white papers, as well as scholarly and popular books about the topic.

The Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by members of the Lilly family. The endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development, with special emphasis on projects that benefit young people and promote leadership education and financial self-sufficiency in the nonprofit, charitable sector.

More information about the project is available at Wellbeing.nd.edu. Or to contact Matt Bloom, management professor at the University of Notre Dame, call (574) 631-5104 or e-mail mbloom@nd.edu.

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