Young Workers Are More Resilient And Happy At Work When Bosses Are Respectful…

Young Workers Are More Resilient And Happy At Work When Bosses Are Respectful

We’re all familiar with the perks for young workers in tech companies such as ball pits and ping pong tables and free beers all aimed at keeping them happy and productive. But they don’t represent what is really meaningful for younger workers.

According to a new study, young people rate being treated with respect by their boss is more important. Writing in the International Journal of Business Communication, a team led by Danielle LaGree from Kansas State University reported that being valued and respected by managers was the key factor in employees’ ability to positively adapt to the workplace. And, in turn, this impacted how loyal workers were to their employers, how much they engaged in their work, and how happy they felt overall.

Participants were 1,036 adults aged 21 to 34, all of whom were in full time employment. They were asked questions about “respectful engagement” at their workplaces, or the extent to which colleagues express appreciation and respect for each other’s work, emphasise each other’s good qualities, and speak to each other in a respectful way. Then participants were asked to evaluate how they felt they were judged by bosses or supervisors, indicating how much they agreed with statements like “my boss values what I contribute to work” and “my boss appreciates my unique contributions to the job”.

Participants were also asked questions aimed at their degree of resilience or the way they handle setbacks at work, as well as how satisfied they felt at work in general. Participants also were asked how much they wanted to remain at their current company in the future, and how engaged they were at work, responding to statements including “I strive as hard as I can to complete my job”, “I feel positive about my job” and “I pay a lot of attention to my job”.

The researchers reported that the participants in the study who felt they were respected and valued both by colleagues and by bosses were more likely to experience occupational resilience — that is, they were more able to deal with the challenges of the workplace. In turn, greater occupational resilience led these people to say they were more likely to want to stay employed at their company, and more willing to engage with their roles.

There was no difference by gender or ethnicity of participants.

The researchers report that the results show that having supportive and respectful colleagues and supervisors can increase employees’ job satisfaction and engagement, and make them more likely to retain their position. The team suggests that these findings should be a useful component of leadership training–in particular how to communicate respectfully could make for happier, more satisfied workplaces with employees who are unlikely to seek new work.

Overall, however, the results suggest that workplace happiness is mostly dependent on fundamental principles of respect and appreciation, not on perks. They, more than ball pits, and ping-pong tables are likely to define employee satisfaction with their work.


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Ray Williams


Ray Williams an Author and Executive Coach. He has written four books and published more than 300 articles on leadership…

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