Highlights - June 2017

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New research into workplace culture, by researchers at the University of Birmingham, has found that employees with higher levels of autonomy in their work report higher overall well-being and levels of job satisfaction.  The research, published recently in the journal Work and Occupations, examines levels of autonomy for 20,000 employees who participated in the Understanding Society survey.

This survey found that levels of autonomy differed considerably between occupations and by gender.  Those working in management reported the highest levels of autonomy in their work, with 90 percent reporting ‘some’ or ‘a lot’ of autonomy in the workplace.

Professionals report much less autonomy, particularly over the pace of work and over their working hours. For other employees, 40-50 percent of those surveyed, experienced much lower autonomy. Meanwhile, around half of lower skilled employees experience no autonomy over working hours at all.

The researchers concluded that greater levels of control over work tasks and schedule have the potential to generate significant benefits for the employee as reflected in levels of reported well-being.

The positive effects associated with informal flexibility and working at home, offer further support to the suggestion that schedule control is highly valued and important in terms of employees “enjoying work.”

The study found compelling evidence to suggest that men and women were affected in different ways by the type of autonomy they experienced.  For women, flexibility over the timing and location of their work appeared to be more beneficial allowing them to balance other tasks such as family commitments.

Men were found to be more impacted by job tasks, pace of work, and task order.  The research also highlighted that despite the reported increased levels of well-being, in many cases managers remain unwilling to offer employees greater levels of autonomy and the associated benefits, Why? Because their primary role remains one of ‘control and effort extraction.’


Work and Occupations, January 1, 2017, “Autonomy in Paid Work and Employee Subjective Well-Being,” by

Daniel Wheatley.  © 2017 Sage...

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