Do you hate your work? Are you in your 30s? We now have a better idea why your job satisfaction has plummeted.
A group of researchers from the University of Queensland, in Australia, asked a sampling of 771 construction workers between 17 and 74 years of age about their job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion. The researchers saw that workplace happiness dropped when the workers were in their late 20s and then returned again when they hit their the early 40s. Exhaustion was reversed, with it climbing when you near the age of 30 and dropping in your 40s.
These findings were presented in the Journal Of Occupational Health Psychology, in a paper titled, "Time Pressure and Coworker Support Mediate the Curvilinear Relationship Between Age and Occupational Well-Being." It was authored by Hannes Zacher, Nerina L. Jimmieson and Prashant Bordia.
From the information derived from the group of construction workers, the research concluded two things: First, that when workers are in their 20s, they make friends with one another. But support from those co-workers drops in the 30s, as everyone is trying to get through "promotion bottlenecks."
Second, in your 30s, the pressure from time builds up. Expectations to find success become more substantial. The resulting focus on work becomes emotionally exhausting.
"This study examined time pressure, work-home conflict, and coworker support as mediators of the relationships between age and job satisfaction and between age and emotional exhaustion," according to a summary of the paper on the American Psychological Association website.
The job satisfaction results were consistent, regardless of workers' gender, education or if they are in white or blue-collar positions.
So what practical use is the study? As the summary online states: "These findings suggest that organizational interventions may help increase the relatively low levels of occupational well-being in certain age groups."
Perhaps companies should give extra vacation time based on worker's age? Or just foster more workplace counciling or attention from supervisors for workers in their 30s.
But the study has issues since the sample base was completely from the construction industry. This also slanted the sampling group toward men. Additional studies will be need to see if these findings remain consistent in other industries or in a population with more women.
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