Self-employed happier at work, study reveals

The self-employed are happier at work despite long hours and more uncertainty, a new study suggests.

The research carried out by experts from the universities of Sheffield and Exeter showed self-employed people felt more engaged with their work, predominantly because they enjoyed more freedom to innovate and influence their working environments.

Academics studied data collected from 5,000 workers in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand across a number of sectors - including heath, finance and education.

Further analysis was undertaken 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 sectors, including management consultancy, financial services, retail, education, insurance and real estate.

The study found that those who were self-employed were not only amongst the most engaged but also experienced greater opportunities for innovation, achieving challenging targets and meeting high standards.

Non-managerial company workers were the least satisfied and engaged.

Co-author Professor Ilke Inceoglu, from the University of Exeter Business School, said: "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."

Co-author Professor Peter Warr, from the University of Sheffield, added: "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."

- The study, Work orientations, well-being and job content of self-employed and employed professionals, is published in the journal Work, Employment and Society.

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