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Workaholics can’t compensate for unhappy home life
Time: 2012-11-29    BY Gavin   From: Curtin Business School   Clicks: 3535
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People who try to deal with an unhappy home life by investing more time and effort at work are deluding themselves, according to a new study recently published by the British Journal of Management.

In a survey of more than 10,000 workers across 30 European countries, the study found there was an overall link between job and life satisfaction - especially for the main earners in households. However, this didn’t extend to anyone attempting to use work to compensate for dissatisfaction in their personal life.

The article, ‘Traditional versus Secular Values and the Job-Life Satisfaction Relationship Across Europe’, was co-authored by Thomas Lange, Adjunct Professor of Human Resource Management at Curtin Business School and Professor in Economics at Middlesex University Business School in London.

Professor Lange said clearly, life and work domains are interlinked. “Happiness at home affects your job satisfaction and vice versa,” Professor Lange said. “However, we have found no evidence to suggest that people who are very unhappy at home will feel in any way 'compensated' by their working life.”

"We know that unhappy people are insecure and have low self-esteem. Because of their negative disposition, these individuals can't easily relate to other people at a deeper level, and they feel lonely. Since they are not happy with themselves or their lives, they resort to escapism, including workaholism. However, our results indicate that this is a mistake, if the expectation is that more work translates into a happier life.”

The results in western European countries with a similar GDP per capita, including France, Germany and Austria, demonstrated a weaker link between job and life satisfaction. Yet, there is a much stronger relationship between happiness in the office and at home in Eastern European countries with more traditional value sets and lower GDP per capita, such as Croatia, Hungary and Romania.

"The majority of people in countries where more traditional values are prevalent report that work is extremely important in their lives. But this is not always the case for individuals in more modern, less traditional countries where work is considered to be only a small part of their character and personality," Professor Lange said.

According to the research, certain life events also play an important role. “We found that happiness at work becomes clearly less important to women's overall satisfaction when they have pre-school children, potentially due to changing priorities of working mothers,” Professor Lange said. “This picture changes considerably when children become teenagers and mothers feel that returning to work becomes a realistic possibility once more.”

Similarly, the research suggests the relationship between job satisfaction and general happiness in life is much stronger among single people than for married individuals.

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