Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

Why do people want more money?

Philosophers, economists, and researchers have been pondering that question for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. One reason for the question — more money does not contribute that much to a person’s happiness.

If that is true, then why do people want more money?

There could be several explanations, according to researchers.

First, it could be that people don’t realize more money will not raise their well-being, although this is suspect since in studies most people say that money is not that important in their hierarchy of values.

It could also be that people enjoy the goal of attaining higher incomes more than the money itself and what it represents.

One other explanation, according to researchers, is that people may seek money because it produces short-terms benefits, even though a person’s long-term happiness does not move.

And finally, people may feel a strong need to acquire money, goods and services simply because of societal pressure. Individuals may feel they need to buy things to gain status and not be perceived as failures.

Whatever the reason, the research remains pretty strong — once a minimum level of existence or income occurs — higher income has only a modest impact on a person’s long-term happiness.

Source: Will money increase subjective well-being? Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. Social Indicators Research, 57, 119-169 (2002).

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Keep a person satisfied in his or her job and it will result in superior job performance.

At least that’s been the prevailing wisdom.

But now a researcher says it doesn’t quite work that way. Nathan Bowling, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Wright State, says that his research shows that satisfaction does not cause performance. Instead, he says that employee personality characteristics, such as self-esteem, emotional stability, extroversion and conscientiousness determine it.

According to Bowling, the studies show that employees who have an overall negative attitude to all things in life likely won’t find job satisfaction, regardless of performance, because of their personality characteristics.

“Emotional stability matters a lot,” Bowling said. “People who are neurotic, those who tend to be anxious, depressed, regardless of the situation, typically won’t find satisfaction no matter how many jobs they try.”

What are the implications of his work?

Bowling says that workplace interventions designed to improve performance by exclusively targeting employee satisfaction are unlikely to be effective. He also suggests that the studies show that intelligence is one of the things that drives the performance. Another common denominator of solid performing employees, according to Bowling, are those who exhibit a high level of conscientiousness — those who are detail-oriented, hard workers and who set goals.

Source: Is the Job Satisfaction-Job Performance Relationship Spurious: A Meta-Analytic Examination. Source: Bowling, N.A. (2007). Journal of Vocational Behavior, 71, 167-185.

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If you want to be successful, first be happy.

Most people think it’s the other way around — that to be happy a person must first be successful.

But researchers, after looking a large number of studies, concluded that a positive mindset often precedes a successful outcome.

Why? They say the success of happy people rests on two factors.

First, because happier people experience more positive moods, they have a greater likelihood of working actively towards new goals while experiencing those moods. No surprise — this results in greater productivity. Second, happier people have built up a greater number of personal, social and professional resources while they were in their positive mood. As a result, they are more likely to tap into those resources when needed. While having a rich supply of resources doesn’t guarantee success, it can be of enormous help when one is dedicated towards achieving his or her goals.

How can this information help us?

Perhaps this research gives us permission to focus on our well-being first. All too often we focus on the end result, ignoring our mood along the way. So what if we’re not as happy while we’re climbing the ladder? We tell ourselves — find success and happiness will follow.

Now we know differently.

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Here’s a counterintuitive thought — if you want to be happier, lower your expectations and aspirations.

That’s right. Don’t shoot for the moon. Set your sights instead on orbiting the Earth.

This advice runs smack in the face of the prevailing attitude in the U.S., which often begins in grade school. You probably heard this familiar refrain when you were growing up: “You can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it. You can even be President of the United States!”

In the 231 year-old history of the United States, there have only been 43 Presidents. In other words — long odds.

Our dreams and fantasies can fuel positive and productive behavior. They can add tremendous value to individuals, groups and companies when the pursuit of seemingly unreachable goals results in dramatic changes, improvements and innovations.

But they won’t necessarily make you happier. High or unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointments, both in yourself and others. Add too many disappointments to life’s “plate” and you may find yourself profoundly unhappy, regardless of your accomplishments.

Happiness comes from the journey, not the destination. Try enjoying the ride more and setting modest goals or aspirations. See if that doesn’t improve your overall happiness.

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Here’s one more reason not to feel sorry for CEOs. They’re happier.

According to a recent study, ranking — not income — determines work happiness.

A professor of economics at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom surveyed 16,266 workers from more than 800 workplaces. The results showed that when Andew Oswald looked at an employee’s worker’s position in a company, he found a strong link with job satisfaction. He says rank influenced how proud people were with their professional achievements, and rank increased happiness 50 to 60 percent when compared with bigger paychecks.

In a second experiment with students, Oswald asked how satisfied they would be with a job offering a yearly salary of $32,000 after graduation. Some were told the pay was the second lowest in the firm, while others were told it was the fifth from the bottom. The results — the higher the ranking, the more satisfied the students were with their prospective job.

Note: this post relies on information provided in an article by Psychology Today online.

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Want a job that gives you greater satisfaction and happiness? Researchers say get one that serves other people.

Researchers with the General Social Survey (GSS) of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago looked at data collected from 1988 to 2006 in which people were asked a variety of questions during face-to-face interviews.

Which profession had the highest levels of satisfaction and happiness? Why clergy, of course. Eighty-seven per cent of them said they were satisfied with their jobs.

On average, 47 percent of people interviewed said they were very satisfied with their jobs and 33 percent said they were very happy. In addition to clergy, the other jobs rated highest in satisfaction were: firefighters (80 percent) and physical therapists (78 percent). Other top jobs in which more than 60 percent of the respondents said they were very satisfied were education administrators, painters and sculptors, teachers, authors, psychologists, special education teachers, operating engineers, office supervisors and security and financial services salespersons.

What were the least satisfying jobs?

Garage and service station attendants (13 percent reported being happy), roofers (14 percent) and molding and casting machine operators (11 percent). Other workers who said they are generally unhappy were construction laborers, welfare service aides, amusement and recreation attendants, hotel maids, pressing machine operators, electronic repairers, kitchen workers, and machine operators.

More details of the study can be read in this ScienceDaily article.

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