Meteor of illusions: the meaning of work for young public bank managers

Abstract This article presents the results of research on the meaning of work for young managers of Brazilian public banks, guided by the social representation theory. This was a qualitative, descriptive-interpretative study. Semi-structured interviews and projective techniques of drawing and sentence completion were applied to 17 participants in the cities of Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and Vitória. The process of objectification and anchoring carried out in the elaboration of the 37 social representations about the work grouped around the three dimensions: “provider and protective organization,” “demanding, threatening, and profit-oriented organization,” and “public organization.” The representations evidenced a strong association between work and money, along with the illusory and ambiguous character of the managerial position, source of pleasure and suffering. Results suggest applicability in reviewing people management practices such as managers’ involvement with workers’ physical and mental health, transparency, and clarity about the roles and expectations of work within banks. The findings suggest the need for tools that respect the professionals physical, mental, and psycho-affective limits, leading to sustainable results both for workers and organizations.