Happiness at work 2017- Do we even want to work.

21 Mar

Today is the World happiness report was published. A report that was first published in 2012. The happiest country in the world this year is Norway just piping Denmark to the top spot. Denmark have had the crown more times than any other country but second place this year is still a great achievement.

Within the report Jan-Emmanuel De Neve( Oxford University) and George Ward(LSE) produced a comprehensive world report on happiness at work.  I have outlined below a few of the main points that they have discovered from their research.

Unemployment has a wider affect than expected.

We all know that being unemployed has a detrimental effect on our ability to provide for ourselves and our family but also in providing a sense of purpose to our existence.

The research completed by Jan-Emmanuel and George showed that high unemployment affects everyone negatively. Including

  • That individuals who are unemployed report approximately 30 per cent more negative affective experiences as opposed to those in employment.
  • People do not adapt much if at all to being unemployed.
  • Returning to work after a period of unemployment leaves scarring and can lead to lower happiness than those who have not lost employment at any stage.
  • Employment matters greatly for the wellbeing of individuals.
  • High unemployment in a society can have an indirect effect on those with jobs as this creates anxiety and heightens fear about job security.
  • Unemployed people are less affected by higher unemployment as the social stigma may be lessened and it is also easier to find social contacts.
  • High national unemployment contributes negatively to national happiness.

Are Self employed Happier than full time employees?

tsawyer

This is interesting

  • Self employment in Latin America the Caribbean and Sub Saharan Africa reported lower life evaluations.
  • In comparison those that were self-employed in Europe, North America, Australia New Zealand, Commonwealth states and East Asia associated Self employment with a higher life evaluation and a positive affect. Greater Autonomy and social safety nets in these structures might have a part to play in these differences.
  • Being self-employed has also higher levels of negative emotions such as stress and worry.

 

Blue or White Collar who is happier?

Well the report noticed that there is a difference between jobs that required physical exertion and manual  labour and those that worked in professional environments.

  • Construction workers, manufacturing, Forestry and fisheries workers, Transport and  Mining workers all experienced lower levels of happiness than their counterparts.
  • Professionals, Managers, Executives and officials scored themselves a little over 6 out of 10  when evaluating the quality of their lives in comparison to 4.5 out of 10 on average for those working in farming Fisheries and forestry.
  • But the interesting comparison is that farming, forestry and fishing in North America, Australia and New Zealand reported equal if not higher life evaluations to their professional counterparts.
  • Where you live and what support you have matters.

Satisfaction and Engagement at work

sleep well

Here are some facts that we already knew but are interesting all the same.

  • By this Gallup poll it was a bleak picture that was painted when we looked at employee engagement. Less than 20% of workers were  actively engaged at work. Only 10% in Western Europe and even less in East Asia.If We round that off to 85% internationally for disengaged workers. The Figures are staggering.
  • A reference was made to The Bryson and Mckerron report that had individuals through an App relay what they were feeling and what they were doing at random times during the day as their smart phone pinged them. Out of the 39 activities that individuals could report engaging in work was rated lower than any of the other 39 activities with the sole exception of being sick in bed as worse. That says a lot.People would rather be doing any of the other 37 activities than working.
  • Senior professionals recorded a higher job satisfaction rating than any other job type.This may equate to pay and conditions and benefits available.

Money matters

The report found that higher wages are predictive of greater wellbeing. Those in higher paying jobs are more satisfied with their lives than those in the lower paid roles. Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is being met here and not for others. There is also higher levels  of self actualization available in certain roles.

What is important beyond income?

What was discovered was that there are six areas after money was no longer an issue that mattered.

  1. Variety within a role  and the ability to learn new things leads to more satisfied workers who experience more positive emotions day-to-day.
  2.  Social capital or support from co workers a feeling that your boss or others are looking out for you.Also having a say in regards to policy decisions made by the organization.
  3. Autonomy- The ability to control their working day and make decisions that matter to what they do.
  4. A balance between work and life. Those that have a job that leave them too tired to enjoy the non work elements of their lives report lower levels of positive affect. Less time with family and having to bring their job home also contributes to lower levels of subjective wellbeing.
  5. A role with good opportunities for advancement and opportunity leads to greater satisfaction.
  6. The competence of bosses has been shown to be a strong indicator of job satisfaction.

Consequently those with Jobs that involved risks for health and safety scored worse on measures for subjective wellbeing.

With such low levels of employee engagement(less than 20%) there is still a lot to be done to make work feel relevant to many people. Simply put if people were financially stable and working for money was no longer an issue people would most likely spend their day quite differently.

So money does matter but so does control over the working day. A balance between work and non work experiences. An opportunity to experience self actualization in work through advancement and learning and a feeling that someone in your workplace is looking out for you.

Get some of these right and we might slowly move the desire by many of the worlds workers to be anywhere but work.

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