Relationships with coworkers matter most for wellbeing

workplace wellnessA 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 wellbeing. His new report, titled “Wellbeing in the Workplace” from The Myers-Briggs Company explores the most effective activities for enhancing well-being and its benefits for both people and organisations.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “Research shows up to 80 percent of people in large companies aren’t engaged at work. This means huge losses in productivity”   [/perfectpullquote]

The study of more than 10,000 people from 131 countries compared workplace wellbeing across geographies, occupations, genders, personality types and age. Boult, along with Dr. Rich Thompson, Senior Director Research, The Myers-Briggs Company, also analysed relationships between workplace wellbeing and organisational outcomes such as commitment and job satisfaction. The study showed that:

Wellbeing 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 wellbeing. While men and women have similar levels of wellbeing 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 wellbeing 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 wellbeing in occupations involving service-related work:

  • Education and training
  • Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations
  • Community and social services occupations

Workers reported the lowest workplace wellbeing levels in more practical, physical jobs:

  • Food preparation and service
  • Production

Well-being is similar around the world. Participants from Australia/New Zealand and Latin America reported the highest levels of wellbeing (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 wellbeing than previously thought,” said Thompson.

Relationships are the leading contributor to workplace wellbeing. 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).

Higher levels of workplace wellbeing correlated with:

  • Higher levels of job satisfaction
  • Higher commitment to the organisation
  • Citizenship behaviors such as increased discretionary effort to help co-workers and contributing to organisational 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 wellbeing. Participants rated the most effective activities in order of importance as:

  1. Focusing on work tasks that interest me
  2. Focusing on a work task that makes me feel positive
  3. Undertaking work where I learn something new
  4. Taking breaks at work when needed
  5. Undertaking challenging work that adds to my skills and knowledge