Older employees are happiest at work, and work pressure is a major source of stress: New study debunks clichés

Happiness at work increases with age, and “wanting more in life” is not the main cause of burnout. A new survey of employees by the Antwerp School of Management aimed at quantifying our relationship to our jobs not only exposes age differences, but also debunks some clichés.

Catherine Swartenbrooks

Despite the creaking of the knuckles, did you leave for work this morning at a cheerful and brisk pace? The most recent employee survey conducted by the Antwerp School of Management (AMS) shows that older employees are the most satisfied group. People in their twenties and thirties are the least satisfied, but once we cross the forty mark our happiness at work goes up.

These amazing findings stem from a survey among 1,968 employees that asked about the way we approach our work. The differences between older and younger employees in particular jumped out of the results. For example, 45 percent of those in their 20s and 42 percent of those in their 30s said they feel like going to work in the morning, compared to no fewer than 63 percent of those over 60. Even 68 percent of those over 60 agree with the statement “When I work out, I feel fit and strong,” while only 34 percent of respondents in their 20s answered in the affirmative. An important note here: the vast majority (92 percent) of study participants perform intellectual work, and thus no physical work. The role of work also varies by age group: only one in four people in their 20s say work is central to their lives, compared to one in three in other age groups.

See also  Ecuador releases 100,000 sterilized mosquitoes to slow virus transmission | Science and the planet

Peak hour life

“These numbers explain to some extent why people in their 30s struggle so much,” says Kathleen Vangronsvelt, professor of work psychology. Because age differences come back again when he is asked about absences for mental reasons. At least one in three of those thirty-somethings surveyed said they had been absent in the past three years due to complaints related to stress, fatigue, depression or an anxiety disorder, and half of them were for more than a month. This number is significantly lower among people in their 20s, 40s, 50s and 60s – although this number may be lower among people in their 20s because not all respondents in that age group have worked for three years. “On the one hand, work is just as central to their lives as their older colleagues are for people in their 30s, but on the other hand, they are less inclined than their older colleagues to work in the morning. Maybe everything is too much. These are the years. in which you usually buy (and renovate) a house, have young kids at home and still have to work hard at your career. The rush hour age, as we call it.”

When researchers inquired about the general state of mental health of the employees surveyed, these numbers are reassuring in themselves: 64 percent of those in their 30s respond that they feel mentally healthy, and that percentage also rises with age. “This sounds very positive. The majority are fine, but when we really interpret the numbers, it means that one in five people in their 30s do not feel mentally healthy,” says senior researcher Eva Geluck. “This means that – if you look around your team – some of your colleagues are not feeling well. We also see this reflected in the question ‘Were colleagues absent for mental reasons in the last three years?’, in which 78 percent answered yes.” Figures that, according to labor economics professor Stijn Baert (UGent), call for a more comprehensive burnout prevention policy. Especially since recent research shows that those who return after burnout often face additional barriers. For example, they see their chances of promotion greatly reduced, in part because they are seen as lower-quality leaders and because it is suspected that they will not They move on to the competition anyway.”

Work pressure and work-life balance in particular seem to play a role mentally, but our general private situation, conflicts at work and a boss not providing enough support also caused stress-related absences, according to participants. “The pressure of work is — unsurprisingly — in the first place,” says Gelock. These numbers show employers how important it is to determine the amount of work and take it seriously. They also echo the findings of the Employability Monitor which showed workload increased by a fifth between 2014 and 2019.” People in their 20s (97 per cent) in particular indicated that work stress causes them psychological problems, although The vast majority (84 percent) of people over 60 also report that it causes them stress.

The study conducted by the Antwerp School of Management not only reveals the age differences, but also debunks some of the clichés circulated about young workers. For example, only 58 percent of people in their 20s said “wanting too much from life” is a common stressor, while three out of four participants in other age groups did. They also gave themselves a good score in terms of general mental health (78%). “It seems to contradict what we’ve heard about young people who are struggling,” says Wangronsvelt. “But know that this degree has been obtained by working people in their twenties; young people who earn money after working at school and get a place in society through work, and who also consider this important.”

In September, the study will be complemented by a survey among employers.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *