Older, rural workers happy with non-standard work: Study

Focusing on non-financial returns of work helps increase happiness
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 06/06/2011

Many older, rural workers are happy with non-standard work, including part-time and seasonal, according to a new study from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, N.L.

There is a very small proportion of older (over 40), rural workers who have local, full-time, year-round employment, found the study, which included interviews and focus groups of workers primarily from Newfoundland and Labrador. Six other categories of workers — long- and short-distance commuters, part-time, seasonal, self-employed and early retirees — were identified in addition to traditional job holders.

Seventeen per cent of 40-plus workers work in jobs with non-standard hours, but they have high levels of job satisfaction, ranking themselves an average of 3.3 out of 4, found the study through analyzing data from Statistics Canada.

Even those who, on the surface, seem to hold jobs of moderate or lower quality tend to make the best of their jobs and focus more on their non-working lives. While their employers may impose schedules or their region may limit their job opportunities, they elect to try and make the best of their situation, found the study.

Many choose to focus on the non-financial returns of work, live frugally, use non-working time for other pursuits — like hobbies and family — or find fulfillment in the role of caregiver.

Given that older workers represent an increasingly large and important sector of the labour market, understanding their work life and how it relates to their financial and emotional well-being and that of their families is critical, found the study.

These results were presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Fredericton.

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