Self-employed happier at work despite long hours and more uncertainty

March 16, 2018, University of Exeter
Self-employed happier at work despite long hours and more uncertainty
Self-employed people are happier at work. Credit: University of Exeter

New research has identified a key ingredient to securing a happy and fulfilling career - working for yourself.

A new study has shown the self-employed both enjoy their more and find it more rewarding – despite longer hours and less - than those who work for others.

The research, carried out by Business experts from the Universities of Sheffield and Exeter, showed self-employed people felt more engaged with their work, predominantly because they enjoyed more freedom to innovate, and influence their working environments. 

The study is published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

Professor Ilke Inceoglu, from the University of Exeter Business School and co-author of the study said: "Being engaged in their makes people feel energised and pleased with their own contribution".

"Measuring how engaged people are in their work is therefore a really useful way to gauge their wellbeing and shows we must move beyond just looking at job satisfaction."

For the study, the researchers examined data collected with 5,000 workers in the UK, the United States, Australia and New Zealand across a number of sectors including heath, finance and education. A further analysis was undertaken of employees across four job grades - non-managerial workers, supervisors, middle managers, and senior managers and directors. The self-employed workers who took part in the research worked in a range of sectors, including management consultancy, financial services, retail, education, insurance and real estate.

The study found that those who were self-employed were not only amongst the most engaged, but also experienced greater opportunities for innovation, achieving challenging targets and meeting high standards. Non-managerial company workers were the least satisfied and engaged.

Co-author Professor Peter Warr, from the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield, added: "Professional workers who are self-employed really value the autonomy they have. They have the freedom to innovate, express their own views, have influence beyond their own role and compete with other companies and .

"They really get to use their own expertise, so don't seem to mind working long hours. They can find meeting high standards really fulfilling."

Explore further: Many highly-engaged employees suffer from burnout

More information: Work orientations, well-being and job content of self-employed and employed professionals is published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

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not rated yet Mar 16, 2018
Note that self employed people usually wanted to be self employed, often with quite a strong desire for that kind of work freedom. Those who are pushed into it, who have to give up paid holidays, sick days, long service leave, retirement benefits, fixed hours with paid overtime and extra pay for working on weekends and holidays may not find self employment so enjoyable. Occasional negative income (when you pay for the privilege of working) is not a possibility for wage earners, nor do they have to risk their assets such as their house in order to establish a business which can always, at least in principle, fail and take those assets with it leaving the individual with nothing.

Perhaps the above study polled only *successful* self employed people (around half of all new businesses fail!).
not rated yet Mar 18, 2018
I was self-employed, and it is not for the lazy, that is sure. The worst thing about self-employment is that whenever you sit down, your Boss is Right There On Your Arse!

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