Study: Job Satisfaction More Important to Well-Being of Academics than Others

(Watertown, MA – December 6, 2012) A new study reveals that job satisfaction may be more important to the overall well-being of academics than it is to employees in other industries. However, job satisfaction in academia is becoming increasingly more dependent on work environments that support personal needs and family responsibilities. In the study, conducted by Horizons Workforce Consulting, as many as 65 percent of full professors and 74 percent of assistant professors - the future of the field - have considered leaving their college or university because of work-life conflicts.

“Colleges and universities, arguably more than most other employers, rely almost entirely on human capital to deliver on their mission and objectives, and both the institutions and their faculty have very high expectations for involvement and advancement,” said Bright Horizons Chief Executive Officer David Lissy. “But job satisfaction is critically important to those who work in academia, and, with more gender diversity in the mix, there is a greater need for higher education to provide supports that help faculty members balance increased expectations for scholarly performance and research with family and community priorities and responsibilities.”

The study of more than 500 full-time faculty members confirmed that a direct line can be drawn between how faculty members feel about their jobs and how supported and valued they feel by their institutions. A large portion of faculty satisfaction with personal life - and by association, well-being and job performance - is connected to satisfaction with their dependent care supports.

Professors who participated in the study report that the demands of academic life have grown while the field’s traditional benefits have failed to keep pace. Less than half of the survey respondents had access to child care through their job, less than five percent had back-up child care and only one percent had access to elder care support.

“I think obtaining a tenure track position, and then obtaining tenure, is very difficult for an individual who is married with children,” said a survey respondent. “One partner, and often the children as well, must make sacrifices for the academic spouse.”

However, among survey respondents who do have dependent care supports from their employer:

  • 78 percent experience reduced stress
  • 60 percent were able to work a day or more when they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to
  • 56 percent say their ability to work on research was supported.