Staff wellbeing improves with age, study finds

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Staff are likely to develop their own ways of improving their wellbeing at work, it has been claimed, with a study finding older employees are more likely to feel happier and healthier at work than their younger colleagues.

According to a three-year international study by The Myers Briggs Company, people aged 65 and over reported the highest levels of overall wellbeing, at an average of 8.14 out of 10. Conversely, those aged 18 to 24 reported the lowest levels of wellbeing, at 6.77 out of 10.

The Wellbeing in the workplace report said the findings supported the widely-held belief that people develop ways to support their wellbeing with experience. This means that younger people can learn ways to enhance their wellbeing from their older colleagues.

The 10,000 participants were also grouped into 23 broad occupational categories. Those in the education, training and library sector were found to be the happiest overall, with an average wellbeing rating of 7.78. This was closely followed by healthcare practitioners and those in technical occupations (7.73) and those in community and social services roles (7.66).

On the other end of the scale, workers involved in food preparation and food service reported the lowest wellbeing ratings, at 6.54 on average.

Gender and culture had little effect on wellbeing, but workplace relationships and personality types had an impact on how a person rated their overall wellness.

Those who identified as an “E type” under the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator of personality types – extroverts who primarily directed their energy outward to other people and events – had higher perceived levels of wellbeing than introverted individuals. The report said it was possible that many workplaces offered environments more conducive to E types.

The report also identified what workers believed were the most effective work activities to promote wellbeing. Focusing on tasks that interested individuals and made them feel positive; undertaking work that taught them something new; and taking breaks when needed were found to enhance wellbeing the most.

“The most significant approaches employers can employ is to provide opportunities for people to undertake work that aligns with their interests, involves learning, fosters positive emotional experiences and affords autonomy to rejuvenate when needed. This presents a challenge in an era of constant and rapid change for organisations,” the report says.

John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, said: “Growing evidence shows wellbeing influences a wide range of life outcomes and, despite organisations spending vast sums on ‘wellness programmes’, few companies use real insight to inform their workplace wellbeing strategies.

“Companies should consider how they can leverage these insights to benefit their workforce. For example, drawing on the wisdom and experience of senior-aged workers to help mentor their younger colleagues can be a key benefit; with mentorship programmes one way to do this.”

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