1 July 2021

A job you love: the top occupations for happiness and job satisfaction.

In 2019, the average 15 year old in the UK and EU could expect work for around 36 years(1). And with medical advancements and financial pressures pushing our retirements further into elderhood, we can only expect this number to increase. Considering this gargantuan proportion of our lives that work consumes, there is no doubt that […]

In 2019, the average 15 year old in the UK and EU could expect work for around 36 years(1). And with medical advancements and financial pressures pushing our retirements further into elderhood, we can only expect this number to increase. Considering this gargantuan proportion of our lives that work consumes, there is no doubt that our choice of occupation is vitally important for our mental health and wellbeing throughout our lives.

People who are satisfied and enjoy their work have greater self-esteem and are less likely to experience emotional burn-out, anxiety and depression. Poor levels of job satisfaction can affect all parts of a person’s wellbeing and have been shown to be linked to psychological distress, sleep disorders, headaches and gastro-intestinal problems(2).

So, what is the key to finding fulfilment at work, and in turn improving our mental health?

There are multiple factors that contribute to job satisfaction and general happiness, and these factors depend on people’s different preferences and personalities. In one major study(3) of 30,000 employees, construction workers were found to be the happiest employees in the world. The researchers put this down to the fact the construction industry allows for creation, camaraderie and outdoor working. It also helps that the construction industry as a whole was booming during the study, and workers were likely not short of work or struggling for income(4).

Other happy workers include writers, photographers, counsellors, fire-fighters, physical therapists, priests, community social workers and kindergarten teachers.

Many people believe that a job will make you happy if it is interesting and meaningful, and if you have some autonomy, are allowed to use initiative, or have flexible or manageable working hours. Other key influences are money (income) and stress levels, and the balance between these. Need more help to focus at work? Check out Head Strong #5.

However, by analysing the happiest occupations, four key reasons why these happiest occupations are so satisfying stand out:
1) Prosocial – they involve interacting with and helping people.
2) Creative – they provide room for you to explore and implement ideas.
3) Teaching – they allow you to pass your knowledge and experience to others.
4) Protecting – they help save other people from harm or danger(5).

So, if you’re embarking on a job hunt or career change, it may be worth considering these four key occupation traits in your pursuit of happiness.

(1) Duration of working life – statistics – Statistics Explained (europa.eu)
(2) The Relationship Between Job Satisfaction and Psychological/Physical Health among Malaysian Working Women (nih.gov)
(3) The 10 Happiest Jobs on The Planet You Can Work at Today (scienceofpeople.com)
(4) Why Are Construction Workers The Happiest Employees? (fastcompany.com)
(5) The 10 Happiest Jobs on The Planet You Can Work at Today (scienceofpeople.com)



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