Relationships with coworkers matter most for well-being at work

A third of your life is spent at work, but what determines your workplace well-being? A new international study investigates this question.
By: | May 30, 2019


Relationships are the leading contributor to workplace well-being, a new study has found.

The study of more than 10,000 people from 131 countries compared workplace well-being across geography, occupation, gender, personality type and age.

Relationships ranked the highest contributing aspect of well-being (7.85 out of 10), followed by Meaning (7.69), Accomplishments (7.66), Engagement (7.43), and Positive Emotions (7.19 out of 10).

Additionally, workplace well-being was found to be related to organisational outcomes. Higher levels of workplace well-being correlated with:

  • Higher levels of job satisfaction
  • Higher commitment to the organisation
  • Citizenship behaviors such as increased discretionary effort to help co-workers and contributing to organizational objectives
  • Employees being less likely to have plans to look for a new job

Another finding from the study was that employees interested in their tasks have higher well-being. Participants rated the most effective activities in order of importance as:

  1. Focusing on work tasks that interest me
  2. Focusing on a work task that makes me feel positive
  3. Undertaking work where I learn something new
  4. Taking breaks at work when needed
  5. Undertaking challenging work that adds to my skills and knowledge

“Research shows up to 80% of people in large companies aren’t engaged at work. This means huge losses in productivity,” said Dr Martin Boult,  Senior Director Professional Services & International Training at The Myers-Briggs Company, who led the research.

“Improving employee well-being is crucial for improving engagement. The biggest lever you can pull to get started is fostering more productive workplace relationships,” he added.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some jobs make people happier. Workers reported the highest well-being in occupations involving service-related work:

  • Education and training
  • Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations
  • Community and social services occupations

Workers reported the lowest workplace well-being levels in more practical, physical jobs:

  • Food preparation and service
  • Production

Interestingly, well-being improves with age — the youngest age group (18-24 years) reported the lowest levels of well-being (6.77) and the oldest age group (65+ years) reported the highest (8.14).

Further, well-being is similar around the world — participants from Australia/New Zealand and Latin America reported the highest levels of well-being (7.83 out of 10), while participants in Asia (7.38) reported the lowest.

“The similar levels being reported suggest that regional culture may have less of an effect on workplace well-being than previously thought,” said Dr Rich Thompson, Senior Director of Research at The Myers-Briggs Company,