Are Unhappy Workers at Increased Risk for Prolonged Disability?

March 1st, 2005 by

The Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, recently issued the findings of a job satisfaction survey of American workers. The findings were picked up in newspapers around the country, including the Boston Globe. The results should be of interest — and concern — to workers compensation and disability carriers alike.
The survey of 5,000 households found that only half of all workers are really happy with their jobs, down from nearly 59 percent in 1995. Of those who are happy, about 14 percent say they are very satisfied, on par with the group’s last survey in 2003 and down from 18.4 percent in 1995.
The long-term drop in job satisfaction has been driven by rapid changes in technology, employers’ push for productivity, and shifting expectations among workers, said Lynn Franco, director of the group’s Consumer Research Center.
”As large numbers of baby boomers prepare to leave the workforce, they will be increasingly replaced by younger workers, who tend to be as dissatisfied with their jobs but have different attitudes and expectations about the role of work in their lives,” Franco said. ”This transition will present a new challenge for employers.” And, I would add, insurers.
To be sure, the drop in job satisfaction varies by age and income. The biggest decline in on-the-job happiness was among workers earning $25,000 to $35,000 and among workers between the ages of 35 to 44. It’s not surprising that job dissatisfaction follows low wages and skimpy benefits.
Implications for Insurers
One line in the press release really hit me: “This information reveals that approximately one-quarter of the American workforce is simply