Wellbeing at work brings happiness indeed

'I cannot emphasise enough the importance of work to begin with in feeding our general wellbeing'

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve talks to Irene Tracey

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Irene Tracey, hosts a podcast series - Fire & Wire - to highlight our communities and share interesting Oxford stories. In this recent episode she was joined by Oxford Saïd’s Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science, Jan-Emmanuel de Neve.

During their conversation they pick over the business case for increasing wellbeing in a workplace context, as well as the objective impacts that an improvement in subjective wellbeing can have on companies and organisations. They also discuss findings from the world's largest study of workplace wellbeing, undertaken in partnership between the Wellbeing Research Centre and recruitment platform Indeed.

With guidance from Jan-Emmanuel and his research interests in behavioural economics, public policy, and human wellbeing at the Wellbeing Research Centre, job-site company Indeed began development on a Work Happiness Score function in 2019 which they then launched onto the platform in January 2022. As mentioned in the podcast, there are now up to 17 million completed surveys on the site making it one of the largest studies of work happiness ever undertaken.

This ongoing research agenda has led to new insights into the relationship between happiness and income, productivity, economic growth, and inequality.

People generally underappreciate the importance of a sense of belonging as a key driver of how you evaluate the quality of work.

Since 2017, Jan-Emmanuel has been an editor on the World Happiness Report, an annual report published every International Happiness Day (20 March). The research leverages six key factors to help explain variation in self-reported levels of happiness across the world: social support, income, health, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption.

This year’s World Happiness Report also shows that despite several overlapping crises, most populations around the world continue to be remarkably resilient, with global life satisfaction averages in the Covid-19 years 2020 to 2022 just as high as those in the pre-pandemic years, with Finland topping the table of 'happiest countries' for the sixth consecutive year.

This episode of Fire & Wire follows on from Oxford University's two-week-long Thriving at Oxford, which featured events to support staff to feel and perform at their best at the University of Oxford.