How quitting your job affects your well-being
One often believes that a change in job will end all the misery that comes along with it. We all know someone, or have been in a position, when the realisation of changing your job seems like the only possible answer to challenges. Often, this realisation grows stronger till it becomes a conviction to act upon. But, as people who have done it can verify, changing a job isn’t as smooth as one assumes it will be. Reaffirming this fact is a research that is due to be presented later this week at the University of Sussex.
What is the research?
German economists, Adrian Chadi and Clemens Hetschko, studied survey data (from Germany), to understand the effects of employment changes on people’s happiness and well-being. The longitudinal surveys that were a part of the research tracked people across decades. This research will be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2016 annual conference at Brighton.
What does the research conclude?
The research indicates that a career change often just causes momentary happiness and doesn’t translate into eternal bliss, as is hoped.
It says that people who resign to start a new job are marginally happier than before – or to be more specific – only a quarter of a point, if measured on a scale of 1 to 10. This satisfaction or happiness is approximately equivalent to that of gaining from a marriage. Even this comes with several riders, as this increase is also more prone to people who voluntarily left their jobs, as opposed to ones who were forced to leave, for the latter are likely to be less happy, says the research.
In the cases that is increase in witnessed, it followed by a decline – bringing the wellbeing level back to its average within a span of one year. This impact is mostly witnessed in job satisfaction, but other indicators of well-being, namely, satisfaction with family life or with free time, do not respond to a voluntary change of employers.
Assuming that a new job is found before the previous one ends, unintended switches of employers do not affect the general level of wellbeing happiness.
The research links the decrease in satisfaction with family life after a switch, for more hours are spent working to endure probation and prove themself.
What do the authors of the research say?
The authors comment: “Our study suggests that changing jobs neither increases nor decreases well-being. In fact, when policies encourage people to change jobs to solve work-family conflicts, fostering job changes will be detrimental as it reduces satisfaction with family life.”
Furthermore, they wrote, “A possible explanation is that starting a new job makes it necessary to assert oneself in a new environment. Employees are willing to work long hours in order to improve future employment prospects. They need to survive probation and may compete with others for a good position in the new job. Working longer means investing less in non-work-related activities, which could explain why satisfaction with family life decreases.”
The study highlights the negative outcomes of changing employers, in both voluntary and involuntary cases, and also establishes the several downsides of getting a new job. The authors say that easing employment protection facilitates voluntary switches of employer by increasing labour turnover and vacancies, but this rhetoric is limited to voluntary transition only. The research challenges the understanding that leaving your job - for good - is the only way to go. Maybe sometimes it is, but where we err, is by pegging our next job as the solution to all our current problems – which is where this study raises a red flag, by highlighting the set of challenges one faces, even under the most ideal conditions. So before you take a decision to change your career, or quit your job, re-evaluate your options, and don’t give up on it, before taking one last shot!