Relationships with Coworkers Matter Most for Well-being at Work, Research Suggest
Thursday, June 6th, 2019
A third of your life is spent at work, but what determines your workplace well-being? That's the question that Dr. Martin Boult, Senior Director Professional Services & International Training, The Myers-Briggs Company, asked before starting a three-year international study on workplace well-being.
The study of more than 10,000 people from 131 countries compared workplace well-being across geographies, occupations, genders, personality types and age. Boult, along with Dr. Rich Thompson, Senior Director of Research, The Myers-Briggs Company, also analyzed relationships between workplace well-being and organizational outcomes such as commitment and job satisfaction. The study showed that:
Well-being improves with age. The youngest age group (18-24 years) reported the lowest levels of well-being (6.77) and the oldest age group (65+ years) reported the highest (8.14).
Gender plays a role in workplace well-being. While men and women have similar levels of well-being at work (men = 7.45; women = 7.52), women reported slightly higher levels of Engagement (women = 7.47; men = 7.29) and Positive Emotions (women = 7.22; men = 7.13). This suggests women's overall well-being may be supported by emotions that link to levels of interest and enjoyment they get from their work.
Some jobs make people happier. Workers reported the highest well-being in occupations involving service-related work:
Education and training
Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations
Community and social services occupations
Workers reported the lowest workplace well-being levels in more practical, physical jobs:
Food preparation and service
Well-being is similar around the world. Participants from Australia/New Zealand and Latin America reported the highest levels of well-being (7.83 out of 10), while participants in Asia (7.38) reported the lowest. "The similar levels being reported suggest that regional culture may have less of an effect on workplace well-being than previously thought," said Thompson.
Relationships are the leading contributor to workplace well-being. Relationships ranked the highest contributing aspect of well-being (7.85 out of 10), followed by Meaning (7.69), Accomplishments (7.66), Engagement (7.43), and Positive Emotions (7.19 out of 10).
Workplace well-being is related to organizational outcomes. Higher levels of workplace well-being correlated with:
Higher levels of job satisfaction
Higher commitment to the organization
Citizenship behaviors such as increased discretionary effort to help co-workers and contributing to organizational objectives
Employees being less likely to have plans to look for a new job
As Sherrie Haynie, Director of US Professional Services for The Myers-Briggs Company, recently described in Forbes, happiness and profit are synergistic.
Employees interested in their tasks have higher well-being. Participants rated the most effective activities in order of importance as:
Focusing on work tasks that interest me
Focusing on a work task that makes me feel positive
Undertaking work where I learn something new
Taking breaks at work when needed
Undertaking challenging work that adds to my skills and knowledge
"Research shows up to 80% of people in large companies aren't engaged at work. This means huge losses in productivity," said Boult. "Improving employee well-being is crucial for improving engagement. The biggest lever you can pull to get started is fostering more productive workplace relationships."