Research Says This is the Top Determinant in Having a Fulfilling Life

What do you think is the top reason people give when asked what makes life most fulfilling? A great life partner? RaisingPew Research, The DiJulius Group kids? Money? Pew Research Center conducted a study to better understand Americans’ views of factors that lead to a fulfilling, happy life. Surprisingly, the majority of those surveyed said job satisfaction was the most important, followed by friendship. Even more surprising was how marriage and being a parent fell behind. 71 percent of all adults say having an enjoyable job or career is extremely or very important for people to feel fulfilled. And 61 percent say having close friends is equally important. Only about one-in-four adults say having children (26 percent) or being married (23 percent) is extremely or very important. The PRC study reveals that most of their survey respondents in the United States believe a person’s career is the top determinant in having a fulfilling life.


The Correlation Between Happiness at Work and Overall Life Satisfaction

Caring for your employees does not just impact their professional lives and the company’s bottom line. It is impossible toLife Satisfaction, The DiJulius Group separate one’s professional life from their personal life. If an employee is miserable at their job and works in a toxic environment, their overall happiness and satisfaction with life can be impacted, and specific areas such as their social life or physical health might suffer as well.


“When it comes to employee happiness, bosses and supervisors play a bigger role than one might guess. Relationships with management are the top factor in employees’ job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall well-being. According to our analysis, only mental health is more important for overall life satisfaction,” shared the authors in McKinsey & Company’s article, The boss factor: Making the world a better place through workplace relationships.

*Related – Employees Talk About Work, A Lot. These Tips Will Make It Positive

Your Biggest Expense is Dissatisfied Employees

A new study from the University of Houston joins a growing body of research findings concluding that job satisfaction has a lot more to do with the people we work with than it does with the actual work we do. Leaders and coworkers have a much higher impact on employees’ quality of lives. And Gallup data tells us that businesses with the highest employee engagement, compared to companies with the lowest engagement, benefit from:

  • 18% more productivity
  • 23% more profitability
  • 81% less absenteeism
  • 57% less turnover

In the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2030 project, employment is recognized as a social determinant of health. Public health professionals agree that general psychosocial stressors at work can include “high levels of interpersonal conflict” as well as “highly demanding jobs and lack of control over day-to-day work activities”. These stressors can lead to negative health outcomes, none of which make for happier, more motivated employees.

It Always Starts at the Top

Unfortunately, research also shows that 75 percent of employees say the most stressful aspect of their job is their immediate boss.

“Senior leaders can create a step change in both shareholder and social value by clearly articulating the sizable upsides to high job satisfaction, including educating managers on their pivotal roles and embedding quality of workplace relationships into manager development and performance appraisals. They can also act as critical change agents by embracing servant leadership and approaching everyone in their organization with compassion and genuine curiosity,” stated Tera Allas and Bill Schaninger, authors of the McKinsey article.

A strong leader is one who, recognizing the importance of their positive impact, instills a sense of caring, trust and confidence in their team members. Love and trust can’t be demanded, they must be given to be received. In this type of above and beyond culture, employees feel empowered and are more likely to give feedback on how things can be better. When employees are part of the innovation process, an incredible sense of ownership and buy in occurs, as well as a significant increase in execution.

*Related – How to Build a More Engaged Team While Becoming a More Effective Leader

Leaders Work in the Employee Perception Business

Numerous studies show irrefutable evidence of the correlation between employee experience/satisfaction, customer loyalty,Employee Satisfaction, The DiJulius Group and profitability. For example, one study showed how call center workers’ weekly sales increased by 25 percent when their happiness increased by one point (on a scale of one to five). It’s a simple equation: happier people are more successful people. And research found in the Journal of Applied Psychology, titled Business-unit-level relationship between employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and business outcomes, revealed that the top 25 percent of brands with the highest employee engagement enjoyed one to four percent higher profit margins than those in the bottom 25 percent. That should satisfy the shareholder theorists.

For Higher Profits and Happy People, Lead from the Heart

The primary duty of leaders is to care for their people, recognizing that work satisfaction is a main ingredient for life satisfaction. They must inspire teams to embrace a customer purpose, and enable their success by allocating sufficient time, education, and resources to accomplish this mission. Leaders must role model, practice, preach, and teach the values that systematically reinforce a loving culture through a wide range of symbols, words, and deeds.

“Leading people is a privilege and a responsibility, and it is not exploitable.
You have to earn this privilege.”


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2024 CXO Academy Class kicks off in January

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About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.