Self-employed people happier and more engaged at work, study finds

Freelance pageSelf-employed people are happier and more engaged in their work than those in any other profession, according to a new study of 5,000 workers.

The study by Professor Peter Warr from the Management School and Professor Ilke Inceoglu from the University of Exeter found that despite working longer hours and having less job security, self-employed workers were among the happiest with more freedom and control over their work life.

Researchers analysed data collected from workers in the UK, the United States, Australia and New Zealand across a number of industries including retail, IT, health, finance and education.

The study, published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, carried out further analysis 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 industries, including management consultancy, financial services, retail, education, insurance and real estate.

The study reported that workers in organisations with non-managerial roles had the lowest levels of job satisfaction and engagement. Researchers noted that both satisfaction and engagement improved with each increase in job grade.

Professor Warr said: “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 people.

“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.”

Co-author Professor Ilke Inceoglu added: "Being engaged in their jobs 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."