Job Satisfaction and The U Curve of Life-The Super Fantastic Leadership Show


173: Job Satisfaction and The U Curve of Life

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Today we are talking the lack of a linear relationship between age and job satisfaction…and also happiness in life! If you’re 30 something and miserable, good news, you’re normal!

We are all looking to feel happy and fulfilled in our work and our lives at large, yes? And in organizations we want our people to have great work environments and a great culture too, yes? There may be some data that might be helpful as we make the journey.

Guess what? Our work and life satisfaction aren’t linear. It is U –shaped.

What this is saying is that we start out all jazzed about our new job and then we land in “the dip”, only to once again, over time, return to a newer level of satisfaction with our work. It is estimated that our average rankings of life and job satisfaction drop about 10-15% within the ages of our late twenties to our mid-forties. From the age of around 18 we become gradually less happy, reaching a low in our 40’s.  As we head into our 50’s, our levels of contentment take off again. By the time we’re in our 60’s, it’s a party.

It’s a pattern that’s been detected in many large-scale studies too.Even one that has data on half a million Americans and Europeans by Blanchflower and Oswald in 2008. Now, there are some things we could attempt to account for; like unhappy people die earlier. So, maybe they aren’t captured during this research? But, with large data sets this doesn’t seem to hold true as a statistic that can reshape that U effect.

But what about at work? Yep, same thing; a curvilinear relationship with age and job satisfaction.

What can we do? Now we can be creative about how to moderate these effects! We discuss and we want to hear from you! Hit us on twitter @daphnescott as you listen in this week!


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