Network Research Highlight: Work is More Than a Paycheck

By: Keaton Fletcher

WSC Advisory Board Member, David Blustein, is part of a team led by Kelsey L. Autin that recently published a paper in the Journal of Counseling Psychology that tackles what it means to have your needs satisfied by your work. The authors point toward decent work as a method that allows individuals to meet their needs. Although there has been historically been great debate about what constitutes human needs, the authors assert that work can meet your survival needs, social connection needs, and self-determination needs (autonomy, relatedness, and competence). By putting food on the table, a roof over your head, providing you with a sense that you are doing something meaningful, giving you an opportunity to take control of certain aspects of your life, make deep meaningful relationships, and feel like you have successfully mastered something, work contributes greatly to the human experience.

In a survey of 476 people working at least part time within the U.S., the authors found that if your job meets your survival needs you also tend to be more satisfied in your life, but not necessarily the job yourself. If the job meets your social connection needs, that you also tend to be more satisfied in both your life and your job. If the job meets your self-determination needs, you similarly are more satisfied in your job and our life, but the relationship between self-determination needs and job satisfaction is the strongest relationship found in the study. That said, whether your job meets your survival needs was the best predictor of life satisfaction.

For researchers, this study focuses primarily on the development and validation of a scale designed to actually measure whether a job is meeting an individual’s needs.

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