In International Stress Awareness week, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve reflects on his research for the Global Happiness Policy Report.
The Global Happiness Council is a network of leading academic specialists in happiness, and key practitioners in a range of areas including psychology, economics, urban planning, civil society, business and government. Council members oversee the work of six thematic groups: education, workplace, personal happiness, public health, city design and management, each of which produces a chapter of recommendations for the annual Global Happiness Policy Report, which is presented every year at the World Government Summit. This supports the global dialogue for happiness, and provides evidence and policy advice on best practices to promote happiness and wellbeing.
Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, chair of the Council’s Workplace Wellbeing committee, and Associate Professor of Economics and Strategy at Oxford Saïd, produced 2018’s chapter on Work and Wellbeing. He joined colleagues at the World Summit in Dubai earlier this year to present the primary outcomes of his research on work-related happiness.
Reflecting on the significance of the 2018 policy, De Neve remarks that this account provides an empirical foundation for future research into wellbeing.
'Work and employment play a central role in most people’s lives. We not only spend considerable amounts of our time at work, employment and workplace quality also rank among the most important drivers of happiness.'
De Neve found that people in work report being twenty percent happier than those who are unemployed, with eighty percent of unemployed people more likely to report negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. Jobs were found to provide a purpose, structure and routine, and an opportunity to develop social relationships. Eighty percent of people reported that they were satisfied with their job, however, only twenty percent of people were found to be engaged with their work. When this was broken down further, and statistics for European nations were considered, a mere eleven to twelve percent of the population were actively engaged with their job.
De Neve notes that these statistics are precisely why research into workplace wellbeing is so crucial. 'We now have robust evidence that employee wellbeing matters for productivity and firm performance—the business case for raising employee wellbeing has never been stronger. Moving forward, we really need to get a better sense for which aspects of the workplace are most important for wellbeing and, critically, what interventions can move the needle on each one of these fronts.'
For more information about De Neve’s ongoing research into workplace happiness, visit his profile page.