World Happiness Report 2017- United Nations

The World Happiness Report by the United Nations publishes research results of happiness studies in general. The 2017 edition also specifically pays attention to happiness at work (Chapter 6: Happiness at work). This chapter in the report builds on the European Social Survey, which identifies the following determining factors for increasing happiness at work:

  • Salary: more salary can be linked to more happiness at work. But: the higher the salary, the less salary increases will contribute to increasing happiness at work. There are even researches which show that there is an inverted U curve: above a certain level, salary does not add anything in terms of happiness. Even more so: it can contribute to decreasing levels of happiness. In that sense, salary should be seen as a hygiene factor (from Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory): salary is a dissatisfier: the salary must be OK – and more salary will not necessarily lead to more happiness, but if the salary is not OK (meaning: less than other comparable jobs / tasks) it will lead to dissatisfaction.
  • Work-life balance: Happiness is being negatively influenced in case people have the feeling that their work is so exhausting or takes so much time that they cannot enjoy the non-work related elements of life. The same is true for worrying about work-related issues and “bringing their job home”.
  • Autonomy: Having a feeling of control over how the workday and the work is organized is determining happiness at work.
  • Social capital: Having the feeling to be supported by co-workers.
  • Job security: Job security contributes to happiness at work; insecurity about the future (in terms of job or income) has a negative impact on happiness at work.
  • Supervisor: The supervisor, and particularly the supervisor’s competence is the final factor that is mentioned by the report as determining / contributing to happiness at work.