New Study: Well-Being in Life and Well-Being at Work: Which Comes First?

Understanding reciprocal relationships between specific arenas in life and at work is critical for designing interventions to improve workplace health and safety. Most studies about the links between dimensions of well-being in life and at work have been cross-sectional and usually narrowly focused on one of the dimensions of the work-life well-being link. The issues of causality and feedback between life and work well-being have often not been addressed.

In this latest study Well-Being in Life and Well-Being at Work: Which Comes First? Evidence From a Longitudinal Study researchers Dorota Weziak-Bialowolska, Piotr Bialowolski, Pier Luigi Sacco, Tyler J. VanderWeele, and Eileen McNeely, overcome these issues by measuring six aspects of well-being for both the work arena and life in general, using longitudinal data with a clear temporal sequence of cause and effect, and by explicitly accounting for feedback with potential effects in both directions.

Nine hundred and fifty-four Mexican apparel factory workers at a major global brand participated in two waves of the Worker Well-Being Survey. The research team analyzed data on life satisfaction and job satisfaction, happiness and positive affect, meaning and purpose, health, and social relationships in life and at work, employed lagged regression controlling for confounders and prior outcomes, and used sensitivity analysis to assess the robustness of the results to potential unmeasured confounding.

The team saw an indication of a larger effect of life satisfaction on job satisfaction than the reverse. For depression and meaning in life, there was evidence for an effect of life well-being on work-related well-being, but not for the reverse. For social relationships and purpose, there was evidence for an effect of work-related well-being on life well-being, but not the reverse.

This study contributes to our understanding of the nature of the relationship between aspects of well-being in the arenas of life and work. Findings from this study may facilitate the development of novel workplace programs promoting working conditions that enable lifelong flourishing in life and at work.

Read the full paper here.