Imagine a job advertisement that reads like this: “Major company seeks a philosopher to advise management about ethical issues, moral values, and the meaning of life.”

If you think that such an ad is unlikely because the hard world of business and the more esoteric realm of philosophy have nothing in common, think again.

In fact, the domains of business and humanities frequently intersect in the increasingly complex and competitive corporate environment of the 21st century.

Take, for example, employee engagement. This approach, practiced in workplaces around the world, focuses on “creating” employees who are committed and motivated to organizational success — that is, improved productivity and higher profits.

Clearly, it is in a companies’ best interest to keep employees engaged. But cultivating a positive work environment doesn’t only require business acumen. The so-called “people skills” — the ability to understand human emotions and (re)actions — are just as important.

This is where philosophers come in. These “professional thinkers” can help employers and employees alike gain fresh perspectives and new insights, challenge the existing corporate culture and propose a new scheme of things.

Although philosophers generally deal with ideas, they do bring concrete skills into the corporate world. For instance:

  • They have experience in communicating complex concepts with clarity and precision.
  • They question assumptions and consider different perspectives.
  • They have good analytic and critical thinking skills.
  • They explore different approaches to a variety of problems.

Workplace philosophers can’t solve all the problems faced by organizations today, but their rational judgment can go a long way toward helping businesses thrive.