Life-changing events such as getting married and having your first baby can have a detrimental effect on your job satisfaction, according to a study by Kingston University’s Business School in the UK.
The researchers found that people feel significantly less happy at work for up to five years after the birth of their first child — with the negative effect on job satisfaction hitting women particularly hard.
The study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior, tracked the annual job satisfaction levels of nearly 10,000 people in the UK between 1991 and 2008. It also suggested that there is a peak in happiness at work just prior to marriage and the birth of a first child, as people anticipate these life-changing events.
“Quite often how you feel about your job is determined by outside factors,” said study author Professor Yannis Georgellis in a press release dated July 4. “Before the happy life event, people may experience increased job satisfaction because of the ‘spillover’ effect, where happiness at home influences happiness at work.”
“But afterwards, people’s focus inevitably shifts more towards home life as priorities change and the work-life conflict kicks in,” he adds. “This is particularly true for people when they start a family.”
A good role to help new mothers find their footing is to offer a more generous maternity leave, such as in Scandinavian countries. “Sweden, for instance, allocates parents 480 days per child, of which the father must take 60, and which can be taken any time until the child is eight years old,” he said.
A separate recent study found that mothers who work part time may enjoy better overall health and fewer signs of depression compared to stay-at-home mothers or those who work full-time.