Media Relations

Nonwork orientations are related to higher career and life satisfaction

When planning a career, many people take nonwork orientations into account, such as family, personal interests and civic engagement. Psychologists from the University of Bern have found out that people who strongly consider the role of the family in career planning report more satisfaction with their career and their lives in general. Surprisingly, nonwork orientations also showed no negative effects on earnings.

People differ greatly in terms of how much they consider nonwork roles, such as family, personal interests and civic engagement when making career decisions and planning their career. Up until now, it was unclear how the consideration of nonwork roles affect career success and satisfaction with life in general.

Taking the family into account leads to more satisfaction

In a study over a time period of six months with over 500 employees from Germany, Andreas Hirschi and colleagues of the Institute of Psychology at the University of Bern (Switzerland) and the FHNW School of Applied Psychology have shown that people who more strongly integrate family considerations into their career planning report greater satisfaction with their careers.

Increased attention towards the family, personal interests and civic engagement are also correlated with generally higher satisfaction with life. It also shows that in particular a strong family orientation had the greatest effects on satisfaction with life. In addition, the researchers discovered that people with stronger nonwork orientations do not earn less money than those who focus more exclusively on their careers.

No significant differences between men and women

In terms of family orientation and taking civic engagement into consideration in career planning, no differences due to sex were identified. Yet women took time for themselves and for their personal interests more into account for their career path than men. The study found no differences in nonwork orientations between young employees between 25 and 34 years and older employees between 50 and 59 years.

Self-sacrifice for the job no longer an ideal image

“In many organisations, there is still a prevailing image that an ideal employee completely and totally lives for work. On the other hand, people who are strongly involved in nonwork activities are often told that they do not have enough ambition for their career and that it could have negative consequences on their career success“, says Andreas Hirschi. But the study shows that the salaries of people who have strong nonwork orientations are not negatively affected. In addition, they are happier with their career and with life in general. “The results suggest that, in general, it is worth to actively include nonwork aspects like family or personal interests in career planning”, adds Hirschi.
The study was published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.


Publication details:

Hirschi, A., Herrmann, A., Nagy, N., & Spurk, D. (2016): All in the name of work? Nonwork orientations as predictors of salary, career satisfaction, and life satisfaction, Journal of Vocational Behavior, 95–96, 45-57,