Thursday, 24 January 2008

Which careers provide the most job satisfaction?

According to the American General Social Surveys* (GSS) carried out between 1998 and 2006, the top 10 careers which provide the most job satisfaction are as follows:

The question asked was 'On the whole, how satisfied are you with the work you do - would you say you are very satisfied, moderately satisfied, a little dissatisfied, or very satisfied?'

The mean score ranges from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 4 (very satisfied).

The same surveys also asked about general happiness:

The question asked was 'Taken all together, how would you say things are these days -would you say you are very happy, pretty happy or not too happy?'

The mean score ranges from 1 (not too happy) to 3 (very happy).

This reveals that the most satisfying jobs are mostly professions, especially those involving caring for, teaching, and protecting others as well as the creative pursuits. Since people's feelings about their work usually have a significant impact on their general happiness, it's not surprising that some of the same professions appear in the Top 10 for general happiness too.

It's interesting that the clergy appear top of both tables, suggesting that finding meaning in your work is a crucial part of both job satisfaction and happiness. Psychologists Judge, Thoresen, Bono and Patton (2001) have shown that job satisfaction and performance are correlated. According to Wrzesniewski (2003), if jobs which give people meaning (for example because they make a contribution to the wider world) are linked to high job satisfaction, and job satisfaction is linked to work performance, people who find meaning in their work are more likely to perform better than those who don't. So it's in the interests of all organisations to help employees create meaning in their work.

Incidentally, the bottom occupation for job satisfaction in this survey was roofing, which unfortunately was 2nd bottom for general happiness too- only 25% of roofers said they were very satisfied with their jobs and only 14% were very happy...

*The General Social Survey which has been conducted since 1972, collects basic information from across the United States in order to monitor social trends. The GSS is based on interviews of randomly selected people who represent a scientifically accurate cross section of Americans. A total of 27,587 people were interviewed for the job satisfaction and happiness section of the survey.

My thanks to Rochelle Melander for this information.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Choice and Well-being

Doing some research today I stumbled upon this lecture 'The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less' by a leading expert on choice and its relationship to well-being, Barry Schwartz.

According to Schwartz, Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College, a little choice is good for you, it can increase your sense of control, but contrary to what we might logically think, having more choice is not better. In fact having too many options to choose from causes a number of problems such as:

* the inability to make a decision at all,
* making a bad decision,
* opportunity cost - worrying about 'the one that got away',
* expecting perfection - and getting disappointed instead.

All of these decrease your sense of satisfaction and well-being.

I'm sure you can relate this to your personal lives, but what about the world of work? Schwartz quotes six companies which are already applying the 'paradox of choice' principles in their businesses:

* Procter & Gamble (who also featured in this posting)
* CostCo
* Trader Joe's
* Tesco
* Aldi
* Greek Diners in NYC

According to Schwartz, these companies are already wise to the risk that the customer may choose nothing if faced with too many options, therefore they deliberately offer a more limited selection than they could otherwise do.

It's an interesting dilemma to be facing, whatever industry you're in, and it's one that's going to get increasingly relevant as consumers become more affluent.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

The Benefit of Saying "Thank You"

Have you written your thank-you letters for all the gifts you received this Christmas?

You might be interested to know that there's been a great deal of research into the benefits of gratitude; grateful people, for example, report higher levels of life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and positive emotions, as well as lower levels of depression and stress*. I've talked about gratitude in several postings before, covered new ways of expressing gratitude, and looked specifically at Peterson's 10 minute exercise to increase your well-being by identifying the things you're thankful for.

This 30 minute BBC Radio 4 programme today explores the subject both for those people expressing their thanks, and for the people being thanked. It's well worth listening to for some real-life insight into the research.

* McCullough, Emmons & Tsang (2002)

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Poetry in the Boardroom

A few weeks ago I wrote about the role of Leadership, Positive Psychology and Creativity. Here's some more "Boardroom Poetry", this time from Ralph Windle, a.k.a. Bertie Ramsbottom. I particularly liked the boardroom ballad called 'The Business Consultant' and his profile of Sir John Harvey-Jones**, 'Born Again'. Plus it was a joy to re-read Betjeman's ' A Subaltern's Love Song* which it parodies.

* Incidentally, while I was googling Betjeman, I came across many other spoofs, this one celebrating York University's 40th Anniversary in 2003.

** 11/01/08 Sadly now the late Sir John Harvey-Jones. It'd be interesting to revisit his Troubleshooter TV series from the 90s, to see what became of the companies who were brave enough to call him in.....