Tuesday, 8 July 2014

People's happiness at work usually dips mid career - now researchers think they know why

If you're in or not far from your thirties, you're part of the age group that previous research shows is most likely to experience lower workplace wellbeing. A new study suggests the reasons for this midlife dip: a double whammy of more demands on time and less support from co-workers.

Dr Hannes Zacher's team surveyed nearly 800 mostly male workers in various roles in the Australian construction industry. Participants reported wellbeing in terms of job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. Consistent with previous research, wellbeing was correlated with age, with job satisfaction dropping in the late twenties and recovering in the early forties, and emotional exhaustion showing the reverse pattern.

Why does this happen? Further analysis showed that participants’ reports of support from their co-workers underwent the same mid-life dip as job satisfaction, and the experience of time pressure at work displayed the same mid-life hump as emotional exhaustion.

Support from co-workers probably dips in midlife as peers compete for scarce resources (promotion bottlenecks are often encountered during this career stage). Also, whereas younger counterparts are often hungry to forge new social networks, and older workers seek identity-affirming work experiences in their remaining tenure, midlifers find it demanding enough just to maintain existing social networks. Meanwhile, time pressure likely intensifies mid-career as colleagues try to leverage one's knowledge and experience.

The influence of support and time pressure entirely explained the age effect in the data. The researchers also looked at work-home conflict, but while this correlated with wellbeing, it turned out not to track age as the other variables did. The authors speculate that the male sample may have less caregiving/familial responsibilities, or that the timing of the peak of these responsibilities may not map reliably onto midlife.

The main findings held, regardless of participants’ managerial status, gender, education, and type of work (white/blue collar). The average impact that midlife has on wellbeing isn't large, but it is real, and may be exarcerbated by other interacting variables. Now we understand that the problems are due to age-related differences, rather than age per se, we discover ways to combat the midlife wellbeing dip. These could include training in time management skills, fairer delegation, and methods for reducing competition between mid-level peers, so they can reap the benefits of strong social support networks.

  ResearchBlogging.orgZacher, H., Jimmieson, N., & Bordia, P. (2014). Time Pressure and Coworker Support Mediate the Curvilinear Relationship Between Age and Occupational Well-Being. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology DOI: 10.1037/a0036995

Post written by Alex Fradera (@alexfradera) for the BPS Research Digest.


  1. This is a really good read for me, Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I ever saw.Thanks for posting this informative article.

  2. Yes, you are right, there are deep links between professions and suicide risk, you can learn more about it from http://prime-essay.org/

  3. Schizophrenia is a serious long-term mental illness. People with this condition may feel fine for long periods, then have episodes during which they have frightening symptoms

  4. First off, I'm sorry for taking a whole year to return to this site and write my reply. I would suggest using the "Skype" communication computer program to talk to him if possible. Unlike long distance phone it is free and the visual component is invaluable. You can use email but emails are easily misinterpreted. When speaking to your brother it is important not to contradict him but to rather try and understand and somewhat enter into his reality and gradually try to lead him back to practical reality without butting heads. Good luck! FJ

  5. Again, sorry for taking so long to respond. I think it's wonderful that some people find the proper type of religious strength to cope with their conditions. I myself went through a period of Christian belief to find such strength. However, I also witnessed many other people who were counter-productively obsessed with miraculous religious imagery. Religion can offer many valid and therapeutic teachings but it can also confuse and divide people and potentially contribute to fanatical behaviour. I do personally tend to believe in an ethical higher power, but one who has preeminent involvement in scientific creation - much of which is still beyond man's scientific understanding. I'm not an atheist because such belief is based upon a non-provable faith in God's non-existence, which to me is as irrational as belief in a specific version of "God". As I stated in an earlier post I would advise that religion be viewed in pragmatic non-devotional terms with an understanding that it's "miraculous" elements were a product of earlier, more primitive thinking. My final medicine-free recovery from schizophrenia occurred after adopting this spiritual perspective. A just and loving God would probably not fault anyone for adopting a moral but agnostic approach to life.

    F. J. Seraf

  6. In my experience, for what it's worth, the best way to eliminate the drugs is to work with the psychiatrist to gradually reduce the dosages over time. Perhaps the doctor may allow him to go off medication at some point. Of course, the initial drug free period is a particularly critical time requiring a supportive environment. In my case, once getting onto a small maintenance dosage I then went off the drug without the psychiatrist's approval and it was a trying time, but the only way. I did a lot of soul searching and I was fortunate to live with my cousin who was very supportive without being judgmental. Good Luck!

  7. Thanks for
    sharing. I also welcome you to Writing Services . All works offered by Writing Services are
    authentic. That is, your essay will be produced specifically for you , so that
    is could satisfy the needs and terms of your order.

  8. Bright academic career supposes to be on the first place in college students' life time. But, it's not easy to create hundreds the history essays during the studying process. Furthermore, no one man is able to manage with such heavy workload, however, a paper services should do this simply. Thence you ought to rely on the custom writing service.

  9. Everything looks great!! Your topic is really outstanding and i appreciate your article writing. paper writing

  10. At the writing services it is easy to get some information and custom writing close to this good post . To do better the career buy custom essay papers and use your time of rest!

  11. Education is very important for everyone. It helps everyone to build their future. By the way, every learner can get a unique essay here. You have a chance to get a good grade and save your time, and I recommend this college essay service .

  12. College essay Topics can help you in solving your educational problems.

  13. Last year when I didn't have plenty of time at the end of
    semester, I had a brilliant idea to buy term papers
    . To my admirable surprise, research paper was deserving the
    price I paid for it. I was satisfied with the grade I got.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.