Happiness is being a cog in a large machine

2006

Want to be happy at work and have a balanced home and office life? It's simple – don't work for a small, badly run company, at least according to a new study.

The survey by the Centre for Economic Performance has found that, by and large, big, well-managed companies with a global reach provide a happier work-life balance for their employees.

Focusing on helping their staff work "smarter" rather than chaining them to their desks was the key to successful management, it added.

Yet, while such firms provided a better work-life balance for staff, they were not necessarily more productive, it cautioned.

The survey of more than 700 companies in France, Germany, the UK and U.S reported that good people management, such as fostering talent, rewarding and retaining well performing staff and offering training were likely to be found alongside good work-life practices.

The share of women in management positions relative to non-management was significantly higher in firms with a better work-life balance, it also reported.

Despite this, the hours worked by both managers and their staff were not significantly higher than those in badly run firms.

There was no relationship found between tougher competition and work-life balance, or between productivity and work-life balance once good management was taken into account.

"It simply is not true that globalisation is such a disaster for employees," report co-author Dr Nick Bloom in an interview with the BBC.

"Employees in larger, more globalised firms seem to be much better off in terms of their working lives than those in smaller, more national firms," he added.

The report recommended that a good and fair work-life balance that did not impact productivity was obviously "socially desirable" because workers aspired towards it.