The UK’s first national subjective wellbeing report published today highlights the positive effect of having a job on people’s ‘happiness’. However, separate analysis by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests this finding only holds true if people are managed well and engaged with their work.
The CIPD’s latest Employee Outlook survey includes the four subjective wellbeing questions asked by the Office for National Statistics. The survey of more than 2,000 employees found that employees who agree they trust their senior managers and feel they are consulted about important decisions have much higher levels of wellbeing than those that disagree.
For example, employees who strongly agree that senior managers consult them about important decisions score a mean of 7.8 against the question ‘Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?’ compared to a mean of 5.7 among respondents that strongly disagree. In the same way, employees who are engaged (i.e. are prepared to go the extra mile for their organisation) score a mean of 7.5 against the question of ‘Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?’ compared to a score of 6 for employees with neutral engagement. Engaged employees are also significantly less anxious than those with neutral engagement or those who are disengaged.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD comments: “Today’s data highlights the importance of having a job to people’s overall sense of wellbeing, however our analysis highlights that it is the quality of people management that will really make the difference if work is to really help underpin people’s ‘happiness’ and resilience. Getting more people into work should boost national happiness – but there’s also a huge amount more happiness to be had if people who already have jobs can be managed better.
“How people are managed on a day to day basis is central to their wellbeing beyond the workplace. Good managers spend time coaching and developing, providing high quality feedback, and rewarding and recognising good performance. Managers also need to have an interest in people as individuals and where possible provide flexibility and support if they are going through difficulties in their lives outside work.”