Advertisement

What Makes for a Good Job? Evidence Using Subjective Wellbeing Data

  • Christian Krekel
  • George Ward
  • Jan-Emmanuel De NeveEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

We study what makes for a good job, by looking at which workplace characteristics are conducive or detrimental to job satisfaction. Using data from 37 countries around the world in the 2015 Work Orientations module of the International Social Survey Programme, we find that having an interesting job and good relationships at work, especially with management, are the strongest positive predictors of how satisfied employees are with their jobs, along with wages. Stressful or dangerous jobs, as well as those that interfere with family life, have the strongest negative correlation with job satisfaction. We discuss implications for firms and other organisations as well as for public policy-makers, and point toward future avenues for research in the area.

References

  1. Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to the social psychology of creativity. London: Hachette UK.Google Scholar
  2. Amabile, T., & Kramer, S. (2011). The progress principle: Using small wins to ignite joy, engagement, and creativity at work. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar
  3. Amabile, T. M., Conti, R., Coon, H., Lazenby, J., & Herron, M. (1996). Assessing the work environment for creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5), 1154–1184.Google Scholar
  4. Angrave, D., & Charlwood, A. (2015). What is the relationship between long working hours, over-employment, under-employment and the subjective well-being of workers? Longitudinal evidence from the UK. Human Relations, 68(9), 1491–1515.Google Scholar
  5. Anik, L., Aknin, L. B., Norton, M. I., Dunn, E. W., & Quoidbach, J. (2013). Prosocial bonuses increase employee satisfaction and team performance. PloS One, 8(9), e75509.Google Scholar
  6. Arends, I., Prinz, C., & Abma, F. (2017). Job quality, health and at-work productivity. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers.Google Scholar
  7. Ariely, D., Kamenica, E., & Prelec, D. (2008). Man’s search for meaning: The case of Legos. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 67(3–4), 671–677.Google Scholar
  8. Artz, B. M., Goodall, A. H., & Oswald, A. J. (2017). Boss competence and worker well-being. ILR Review, 70(2), 419–450.Google Scholar
  9. Ashraf, N., & Bandiera, O. (2017). Altruistic capital. American Economic Review, 107(5), 70–75.Google Scholar
  10. Batson, C. D., & Powell, A. A. (2003). Altruism and prosocial behavior. In I. B. Weiner (Ed.), Handbook of psychology (Vol. 5). London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Bloom, N., Liang, J., Roberts, J., & Ying, Z. J. (2014). Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 130(1), 165–218.Google Scholar
  12. Böckerman, P., & Ilmakunnas, P. (2012). The job satisfaction-productivity nexus: A study using matched survey and register data. ILR Review, 65(2), 244–262.Google Scholar
  13. Böheim, R., & Taylor, M. P. (2004). Actual and preferred working hours. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 42(1), 149–166.Google Scholar
  14. Bradler, C., Dur, R., Neckermann, S., & Non, A. (2016). Employee recognition and performance: A field experiment. Management Science, 62(11), 3085–3099.Google Scholar
  15. Bryson, A., & MacKerron, G. (2016). Are you happy while you work? The Economic Journal, 127(599), 106–125.Google Scholar
  16. Chandola, T., Brunner, E., & Marmot, M. (2006). Chronic stress at work and the metabolic syndrome: prospective study. BMJ, 332(7540), 521–525.Google Scholar
  17. Clark, A. (2009) Work, Jobs and Well-Being across the Millennium. IZA Discussion Paper, 3940.Google Scholar
  18. De Neve, J. E., & Oswald, A. J. (2012). Estimating the influence of life satisfaction and positive affect on later income using sibling fixed effects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(49), 19953–19958.Google Scholar
  19. De Neve, J. E., & Ward, G. (2017). Happiness at work. CEP Discussion Paper no. 1474.Google Scholar
  20. De Neve, J. -E., Diener, E., & Tay, L., & Xuereb, C. (2013). The objective benefits of subjective well-being. In J. Helliwell, R. Layard, & J. Sachs (Eds.), World happiness report 2013. New York: UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.Google Scholar
  21. Dolan, P., & Metcalfe, R. (2012). Measuring subjective wellbeing: Recommendations on measures for use by national governments. Journal of Social Policy, 41(2), 409–427.Google Scholar
  22. Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687–1688.Google Scholar
  23. Easterlin, R. A. (2006). Life cycle happiness and its sources: Intersections of psychology, economics, and demography. Journal of Economic Psychology, 27(4), 463–482.Google Scholar
  24. Edmans, A. (2011). Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices. Journal of Financial Economics, 101(3), 621–640.Google Scholar
  25. Edmans, A. (2012). The link between job satisfaction and firm value, with implications for corporate social responsibility. Academy of Management Perspectives, 26(4), 1–19.Google Scholar
  26. Eisenberg, N., Spinrad, T. L., & Morris, A. S. (2013). Prosocial development. In P. D. Zelazo (Ed.), Oxford handbook of developmental psychology (Vol. 2). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Evren, Ö., & Minardi, S. (2017). Warm-glow giving and freedom to be selfish. The Economic Journal, 127(603), 1381–1409.Google Scholar
  28. Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425(6960), 785.Google Scholar
  29. Frey, B. S. (2017). Research on well-being: Determinants, effects, and its relevance for management. CREMA Working Paper, 2017–11.Google Scholar
  30. Frey, B. S., & Gallus, J. (2017). Honour versus money. The economics of awards. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Gallup News. (2015). Employees want a lot more from their managers, Online: http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/182321/employees-lot-managers.aspx, Accessed 01 Dec 2017.
  32. Gallus, J., & Frey, B. S. (2016). Awards: A strategic management perspective. Strategic Management Journal, 37(8), 1699–1714.Google Scholar
  33. Gartenberg, C., Prat, A., & Serafeim, G. (2016). Corporate purpose and financial performance. Harvard Business School Working Paper, 17-023.Google Scholar
  34. Gielen, A. C., & van Ours, J. C. (2014). Unhappiness and job finding. Economica, 81(323), 544–565.Google Scholar
  35. Gilchrist, D. S., Luca, M., & Malhotra, D. (2016). When 3+ 1> 4: Gift structure and reciprocity in the field. Management Science, 62(9), 2639–2650.Google Scholar
  36. Graham, C. (2017). Happiness and economics: insights for policy from the new ‘science’ of well-being. Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, 1(1), 69–72.Google Scholar
  37. Grant, A. M. (2008). Employees without a cause: The motivational effects of prosocial impact in public service. International Public Management Journal, 11(1), 48–66.Google Scholar
  38. Harrison, D. A., Newman, D. A., & Roth, P. L. (2006). How important are job attitudes? Meta-analytic comparisons of integrative behavioral outcomes and time sequences. Academy of Management Journal, 49(2), 305–325.Google Scholar
  39. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., & Hayes, T. L. (2002). Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes: a meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(2), 268.Google Scholar
  40. Harter, J. K., Schmidt, F. L., Asplund, J. W., Killham, E. A., & Agrawal, S. (2010). Causal impact of employee work perceptions on the bottom line of organizations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(4), 378–389.Google Scholar
  41. Heinz, M., Jeworrek, S., Mertins, V., Schumacher, H., & Sutter, M. (2017). Measuring indirect effects of unfair employer behavior on worker productivity – a field experiment. CEPR Discussion Paper, 12429.Google Scholar
  42. Helliwell, J. F., & Huang, H. (2011). Well-being and trust in the workplace. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12(5), 747–767.Google Scholar
  43. Helliwell, J. F., & Wang, S. (2015). How was the weekend? How the social context underlies weekend effects in happiness and other emotions for US workers. PloS one, 10(12), e0145123.Google Scholar
  44. Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., & Putnam, R. D. (2009). How’s the Job? Are trust and social capital neglected workplace investments? In V. O. Bartkus & J. H. Davis (Eds.), Social capital: Reaching out, reaching in. London: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  45. Helliwell, J. F., Huang, H., & Wang, S. (2016). New evidence on trust and wellbeing. NBER Working Paper, 22450.Google Scholar
  46. Helliwell, J. F., Aknin, L. B. Shiplett, H., Huang, H., & Wang, S. (2017). Social capital and prosocial behaviour as sources of well-being. NBER Working Paper, 23761.Google Scholar
  47. Hu, J., & Hirsh, J. B. (2017). Accepting lower salaries for meaningful work. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1649.Google Scholar
  48. Judge, T. A., Thoresen, C. J., Bono, J. E., & Patton, G. K. (2001). The job satisfaction–job performance relationship: A qualitative and quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 127(3), 376.Google Scholar
  49. Kahneman, D., Krueger, A. B., Schkade, D. A., Schwarz, N., & Stone, A. A. (2004). A survey method for characterizing daily life experience: The day reconstruction method. Science, 306(5702), 1776–1780.Google Scholar
  50. Kelly, E. L., Moen, P., Oakes, J. M., Fan, W., Okechukwu, C., Davis, K. D., et al. (2014). Changing work and work-family conflict: Evidence from the work, family, and health network. American Sociological Review, 79(3), 485–516.Google Scholar
  51. King, R. B., Karuntzos, G., Casper, L. M., Moen, P. E., Davis, K. D., Berkman, L. F., Durham, M., & Kossek, E. E. (2012). Work-family balance issues and work-leave policies. In R. J. Gatchel & I. Z. Schultz (Eds.), Handbook of occupational health and wellness. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  52. Knight, C., & Haslam, S. A. (2010). The relative merits of lean, enriched, and empowered offices: An experimental examination of the impact of workspace management strategies on well-being and productivity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 16(2), 158.Google Scholar
  53. Krause, A. (2013). Don’t worry, be happy? Happiness and reemployment. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 96, 1–20.Google Scholar
  54. Krekel, C., G. Ward, & De Neve, J.-E. (2019). Employee wellbeing, productivity and firm performance. CEP Discussion Paper, 1605.Google Scholar
  55. Lazear, E. P., Shaw, K. L., & Stanton, C. T. (2015). The value of bosses. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(4), 823–861.Google Scholar
  56. Leslie, L. M., Manchester, C. F., Park, T. Y., & Mehng, S. A. (2012). Flexible work practices: A source of career premiums or penalties? Academy of Management Journal, 55(6), 1407–1428.Google Scholar
  57. Luechinger, S., Meier, S., & Stutzer, A. (2010). Why does unemployment hurt the employed? Evidence from the life satisfaction gap between the public and the private sector. Journal of Human Resources, 45(4), 998–1045.Google Scholar
  58. Mas, A., & Pallais, A. (2017). Valuing alternative work arrangements. American Economic Review, 107(12), 3722–3759.Google Scholar
  59. Meier, S., & Stutzer, A. (2008). Is volunteering rewarding in itself? Economica, 75(297), 39–59.Google Scholar
  60. Moen, P., Kelly, E. L., & Hill, R. (2011). Does enhancing work-time control and flexibility reduce turnover? A naturally occurring experiment. Social Problems, 58(1), 69–98.Google Scholar
  61. Moen, P., Kelly, E. L., Fan, W., Lee, S. R., Almeida, D., Kossek, E. E., & Buxton, O. M. (2016). Does a flexibility/support organizational initiative improve high-tech employees’ well-being? Evidence from the work, family, and health network. American Sociological Review, 81(1), 134–164.Google Scholar
  62. OECD. (2014). Balancing paid work, unpaid work and leisure, Online: http://www.oecd.org/gender/data/balancingpaidworkunpaidworkandleisure.htm. Accessed 08 Oct 2017.
  63. OECD. (2017a). Employment: Time spent in paid and unpaid work, by sex, Online: http://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?queryid=54757. Accessed 19 Oct 2017.
  64. OECD. (2017b). OECD guidelines on measuring the quality of the working environment, Online: http://www1.oecd.org/publications/oecd-guidelines-on-measuring-the-quality-of-the-working-environment-9789264278240-en.htm. Accessed 24 Nov 2017.
  65. Ogbonnaya, C., & Daniels, K. (2017). Good work, wellbeing and changes in performance outcomes: Illustrating the effects of good people management practices with an analysis of the National Health Service. London: What Works Wellbeing.Google Scholar
  66. Oswald, A. J., Proto, E., & Sgroi, D. (2015). Happiness and productivity. Journal of Labor Economics, 33(4), 789–822.Google Scholar
  67. PwC Research. (2013). Rising sick bill is costing UK business £29bn a year, Online: http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2013/07/rising-sick-bill-is-costing-uk-business-29bn-a-year-pwcresearch.html. Accessed on 17 Apr 2019.
  68. Social Research and Demonstration Corporation. (2014a). UPSKILL: A credible test of workplace literacy and essential skills training – Summary report, Online: http://www.srdc.org/media/199770/upskill-final-results-es-en.pdf. Accessed 29 Nov 2017.
  69. Social Research and Demonstration Corporation. (2014b). UPSKILL: A credible test of workplace literacy and essential skills training – Technical report, Online: http://www.srdc.org/media/199774/upskill-technical-report-en.pdf. Accessed 29 Nov 2017.
  70. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2009). The paradox of declining female happiness. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(2), 190–225.Google Scholar
  71. Tay, L., & Harter, J. K. (2013). Economic and labor market forces matter for worker well-being. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 5(2), 193–208.Google Scholar
  72. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health. (2007). Mental health at work: Developing the business case. Policy Paper, 8.Google Scholar
  73. Tenney, E. R., Poole, J. M., & Diener, E. (2016). Does positivity enhance work performance?: Why, when, and what we don’t know. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36, 27–46.Google Scholar
  74. Tims, M., Bakker, A. B., & Derks, D. (2013). The impact of job crafting on job demands, job resources, and well-being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18(2), 230.Google Scholar
  75. Van Praag, B. M., Frijters, P., & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A. (2003). The anatomy of subjective well-being. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 51(1), 29–49.Google Scholar
  76. What Works Centre for Wellbeing. (2017a). Briefing: Job quality and wellbeing, Online: https://www.whatworkswellbeing.org/product/job-quality-and-wellbeing/. Accessed 27 Nov 2017.
  77. What Works Centre for Wellbeing. (2017b). Briefing: Learning at work and wellbeing, Online: https://www.whatworkswellbeing.org/product/learning-at-work/. Accessed 27 Nov 2017.
  78. What Works Centre for Wellbeing. (2017c). Briefing: Team working, Online: https://www.whatworkswellbeing.org/product/team-working/. Accessed 27 Nov 2017.
  79. White, M., & Bryson, A. (2013). Positive employee relations: How much human resource management do you need? Human Relations, 66(3), 385–406.Google Scholar
  80. Whitman, D. S., Van Rooy, D. L., & Viswesvaran, C. (2010). Satisfaction, citizenship behaviors, and performance in work units: A meta-analysis of collective construct relations. Personnel Psychology, 63(1), 41–81.Google Scholar
  81. Willis Towers Watson. (2014). Balancing employer and employee priorities: Insights From the 2014 global workforce and global talent management and rewards studies, Online: https://www.towerswatson.com/en/Insights/IC-Types/Survey-Research-Results/2014/07/balancing-employer-and-employee-priorities. Accessed 01 Dec 2017.
  82. Wooden, M., Warren, D., & Drago, R. (2009). Working time mismatch and subjective well-being. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 47(1), 147–179.Google Scholar
  83. Woolley, K., & Fishbach, A. (2015). The experience matters more than you think: weighting intrinsic incentives more inside than outside of an activity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(6), 968–982.Google Scholar
  84. Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179–201.Google Scholar
  85. Wunder, C., & Heineck, G. (2013). Working time preferences, hours mismatch and well-being of couples: Are there spillovers? Labour Economics, 24, 244–252.Google Scholar
  86. Yeager, D. S., Henderson, M. D., D’Mello, S., Paunesku, D., Walton, G. M., Spitzer, B. J., & Duckworth, A. L. (2014). Boring but important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(4), 559–580.Google Scholar
  87. Yuan, L. (2015). the happier one is, the more creative one becomes: An investigation on inspirational positive emotions from both subjective well-being and satisfaction at work. Psychology, 6, 201–209.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Krekel
    • 1
  • George Ward
    • 2
  • Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.London School of EconomicsLondonUK
  2. 2.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  3. 3.University of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations