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People Who Work For Non-Profit Organisations Are Happier

Why they are happier in their jobs and happier in life in general

By Harry Puckering

Harry is Oakwood's Associate Learning Consultant and works in our Associate Team
More from Harry >>

Recent psychological research conducted in the UK on more than 13,000 people suggests that workers at public sector and third sector organisations (including non-governmental organisations and charities) tend to be much happier with their lives than for-profit workers.  In particular, these not-for-profit workers seem to be more satisfied with their jobs (including their hours and job security), to enjoy their day-to-day activities more, and to believe more strongly that they are playing a useful role in life.

The author of the study, Martin Binder, estimates that a for-profit worker would have to earn an extra £27,000 (130,000AED) per year (based on UK salaries between 1996 to 2008) to be as happy as a person working similar hours for a not-for-profit organisation.

Why is this interesting for Oakwood International and its CIPD students?

Well, in the 2015 World Happiness Report, published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a global initiative for the United Nations, the UAE was ranked 20th happiest country in the world, Oman was rankled 22nd, Qatar was 28th and KSA was 35th.  

(For comparison, of the 158 nations ranked, the five happiest countries were Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.  The USA was ranked 15th.  The UK was ranked 20th, one above the UAE. And the least happy nations were all war torn, poor and politically unstable.)

But the demographics of the working populations in the GCC nations are different to those of comparison nations.  In the GCC, a higher proportion of jobs in the not-for-profit sector are done by (higher paid) Nationals, while the for-profit sector is dominated by very large numbers of (lower paid) expatriates and guest-workers.  This means that working GCC Nationals tend to ‘win both ways’:  their work makes them happier AND they earn more.

For the moment, this can be a cause for celebration among Nationals. But in the longer term, changes need to be made.  With the oil price low, not-for-profit employers will not be able to afford the higher salaries and reward packages of Nationals, so may look to reduce the wages bill by freezing rewards or making jobs redundant.  Happiness will decrease.  Meanwhile, the private sector will only meet its Nationalisation targets by increasing the salaries offered: if they want their new National staff to be happy, these packages will need to appreciably higher than those available in the not-for-profit sector.

Making these important strategic HR changes is hard, which is where Oakwood’s CIPD training and qualifications are so important.  Our Foundation Level 3 programmes are all about practically running HR and L&D functions as effectively as possible.  Our Intermediate Level 5 programmes are concerned with the kind of long-term strategic thinking needed when organisations have to balance the happiness and other needs of their staff with the corporate objectives and financial realities of business.

Contact Oakwood to discuss how our CIPD qualification programmes can help your organisation.  We are also very happy to discuss consultancy or bespoke programmes to help your HR, L&D and senior management teams.

Binder, M. (2016). “…Do it with joy!” – Subjective well-being outcomes of working in non-profit organizations Journal of Economic Psychology, 54, 64-84 DOI: Do it with Joy!

Image @ spaitgirl.com/2015/03/happy-international-day-of-happiness/

Contact us today to find out more about our CIPD qualifications email us at: info@oakwooddubai.ae