People who are given greater variety and independence in their jobs feel both less stressed and more satisfied, according to new research findings.

According to Stephen Wood, a Professor of Management at the University of Leicester, who led the research,Employees are also more likely to be happy when management readily shares information and consults with them,

The research is based on data from the Government’s 2004 Workplace Employee Relations Survey, which involved 22,451 employees at 2,295 workplaces in the UK. The researchers used data gathered from questionnaires filled out by the employees and interviews with managers at the same workplaces.

The study measured two separate forms of wellbeing: anxiety and job satisfaction. It tested to see whether either is different in workplaces where executives practise ‘high performance work systems’, i.e. boosting performance by giving people greater involvement in their own companies. This includes granting employees more variety and autonomy – what Wood calls ‘enriched jobs’. It also includes ‘informative management’ – telling people more about changes in their company, including staffing and its overall financial performance. Another example Wood gives is greater consultation between bosses and employees, where both sides can put forward their views – ‘consultative management’.

Professor Wood said:
“The current Government’s desire to measure our wellbeing seems largely to have provoked public debates about whether money can make us happy. This research shows there are ways of treating people at work that can make them happier, which have little to do with money.”

The report adds:’An enriched job may also increase opportunities for skill use and development, job variety, and the sense of being valued or playing a significant role in the organisation or society, thus adding to the potential impact on wellbeing.’The authors make some recommendations for the practical implications of the research:
“Our study implies that priority should be given to initiatives that enrich jobs, enhance consultation and improve information-sharing and consultation.”