Happier as an employee or boss?

Dear Aunty B,

I run a business with five staff and have just worked all weekend catching up. I have always thought that working for yourself is far better than being an employee.

But now I am not sure. My friends who all work for large corporations spend weekends relaxing and recouping – not catching up and worrying about the business.


I assume you have been both boss and employee Aunty B. What’s better?

Sarah W,
Wollstonecraft, NSW




Dear Sarah,

Take a deep breath and get this in perspective. You are just tired. You have also forgotten what it is like to be a wage slave and beholden to the whims of incompetent managers.


But don’t take my word for it. A new study by Murdoch University Business School has used data from the national Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey. It compared data from 526 business owners and 6840 wage and salary employees.


The researchers looked at a range of issues, including satisfaction with one’s own life and job, individual priorities, perceived prosperity, risk preferences and individual health and well-being.


And guess what they found? The level of satisfaction between the self employed and paid employees differs significantly – and it is the bosses that triumph!


Bosses are significantly more satisfied about their employment opportunities, their life conditions, their personal safety, in feeling part of the community, their personal health and the neighbourhood in which they reside. They also feel “very comfortable” with their own prosperity and more willing than employees to take risks to gain financial well-being.


All of these are the commonly accepted measures of well being. And these findings broadly align with similar findings among other nations across the OECD.


But – and this is a big but – the well-being has a cost. Wage and salary employees are more satisfied with their free time and more satisfied with the hours they work and their leisure activities than bosses.


The researchers conclude that bosses may feel they are always responsible to their businesses and their customers, and that this spills into their free time.


And Sarah, although the research does not suggest this, we both know that bosses work and worry on weekends – so no wonder they feel they have less control on their free time.


So Sarah, weekend work and worrying is hugely annoying. But as long as you are getting all those other benefits, it may put it in perspective.


And don’t forget. Surely gaining more free time is an easier problem to deal with than trying to find satisfaction in your job!


Your Aunty B.



Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch
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