The Great Resignation contributed to the happiest workforce in over 30 years

The U.S. workforce was at the highest level on record last year.
Getty Images

The Great Resignation might have brought consternation to the executive suite, but it also resulted in the happiest workforce the U.S. has seen since the late 1980s.

A new study from the Conference Board, a research organization, shows that overall job satisfaction among U.S. workers hit its highest levels on record last year, as wages improved and many people sought out jobs that they found more satisfying.

Last year, 62.6% of the workers surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs. That’s up from 56.8% in 2020 and well off of 2010’s lows of just 42.6%.

“U.S. workers have never been more content,” the report read. “The largest gains occurred in “experience of work” components such as work/life balance, workload, and performance review processes. Satisfaction with compensation and benefits components including health plans, bonus plans, and educational and job training programs also significantly improved in 2022.”

It’s notable that the survey spoke with its 1,680 workers before the current slate of layoffs began, so concerns about job security and the effects of a possible recession are not factored into the results. Neither are increased enforcement of back-to-office mandates by many employers.

That last caveat is a notable one, as workers who had hybrid work arrangements reported the highest levels of job satisfaction in the report. Competitive pay, work/life balance and workload were also big factors in employee happiness.

Workers who left their old jobs to try something new reported the highest levels of satisfaction in almost all aspects of their job. Overall, the Conference Board found, women are significantly less satisfied than men in each of the 26 job satisfaction elements explored.

“Despite year-over-year improvements, job satisfaction among women remains below that of men, with large gaps appearing in job security, promotion policy, and bonus plans, as well as across compensation and benefits, including pay, sick day policy, vacation policy, and health plans,” the report reads.

Job security showed one of the biggest gaps, with 61.8% of women saying they were satisfied with their current level, compared to 68.7% of men.

Overall worker satisfaction hit its lowest levels after the last recession—and the Conference Board said that should the U.S. experience another one this year, you can expect a drop in the 2023 results. However, it added, that will likely be a short-term stumble.

“The short recession that many anticipate in 2023 may temporarily ease labor shortages,” it wrote. “We see some signs of softening labor markets with job openings and voluntary quits declining over the last few months after record highs in March 2022. Declining worker mobility could reduce job satisfaction in the coming 12 to 24 months. In the medium and long term, however, changing demographics and restricted immigration will likely expand skill and talent shortages.”

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate