Do you know this man? He’s 39-years-old and married. His salary is between $150,000-$200,000 annually. He works in a senior management position in his firm and may work longer hours than you. (Some of them from home, either via telecommuting or in his off-hours). Speaking of home, he’s got one young child with his wife, who works part-time.
If you do have a colleague who fits this profile, chances are…he’s happier than you. So says a new survey on the happiness levels of men and women at work. The study, done by digital media firm Captivate Network based in Chelmsford, MA, surveyed 673 people this past July in 14 major urban centres across North America. Its conclusion? Men are generally happier at work than women. Overall, the study noted that men are 25 percent happier at work and eight percent happier at home than women, and that 75 percent of the male responders reported having a healthy work-life balance. Only 70 per cent of female responders said they were happy with their work-life balance.
Why the disparity? There are a few factors why men seem happier at work, according to Scott Marden, Captivate’s director of research. Along with being more satisfied with their work/life balance, men seem to get out more for their “me” time, have less responsibilities at home and more flexibility to take breaks through their days. Meanwhile, Marden notes, women are unhappy at work due to bad bosses, long hours and workplaces that don’t foster a culture of work-life balance. “Working women may not feel comfortable taking “me” time on a regular basis, away from the office,” says Marden. “If the majority of their free time is spent within company walls, it’s likely that it’s limited to surfing the Web, or hanging out with co-workers. In both cases, we’ve seen that too much can be harmful to one’s happiness.”
Now let’s be fair — women might have external reasons that can influence their ability to take “me time.” If men have fewer responsibilities at home, for instance, who do you think is picking up that slack? It’s women. Taking care of those household chores that are being left behind would certainly impact the ability to take some personal time outside of work, or even within work. (Think: spending your coffee break signing your son up for swimming lessons instead of going out for actual coffee with your colleagues.) Let’s not forget about having a spouse employed part-time at home taking care of not only household chores but childcare as well. That would certainly free up some time for happiness-related activities, and we have to remember that before we go blaming women for their own unhappiness.
That said, Marden offers up some thoughts as to how women can be happier at work.
- Improve your work/life balance to achieve greater happiness.
- Take breaks, use vacation time, create weekly to do lists, leave work at a reasonable hour.
- Remember that more time at the office does not always equal higher productivity.
- Take more “me” time during the workday and away from the office.
- “Me” time in the office (surfing the web, talking to coworkers) in moderation is okay too.
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