Employment & well-being


Skip the career test, they’re unreliable. ‘We’re bad at predicting what will make us happiest ahead of time, and where we’ll perform best’. Unemployment harms well-being (unless unemployment is widespread) and a $75,000 annual income (Just $30,000+ puts one in the global top 1%) is my goal. The impact of unemployment is dampened in those for whom work is less central to their identity, those who receive less criticism and less negative judgments from others, those who can meet their immediate financial obligations and those who do not see their unemployment as high stress and negative. Protective factors include the expectation of reemployment, routines that structure one's time and evaluating oneself as worthy, competent and successful.


What makes for a satisfying career and how to get a job are somewhat solved problems. As is data-driven resume design or social media profile choice.


'A research study looked at 1,100 court cases over a 10 month period. Each case a judge made a decision on whether to grant parole to the criminal or not. The researchers found that the time of the case time had the most significant impact on the judge’s decision. Imagine two similar cases where both criminals committed similar crimes. The criminal seen in the morning had a much higher (65%) chance of getting parole in comparison to the criminal seen in the late morning (10%).


Schedule morning interviews?


Happiness at work comes from job security, career development, job autonomy, work/life balance and good working relationships, which in turn causes most efficient, productive and better retained employees. What also helps: fun workplace activities, varied and meaningful work, leadership communication with subordinates and a flexible work schedule of 40 hours or less a week with spare time and control over that spare time.


What value can employees bring to the table? In terms of work performance: Intelligence (general mental ability) is the strongest known predictor of job performance. But, that may be less true for fields that are information-rich and require much instructional learning.  Conscientiousness is another good predictor. The importance of experience is debatable - experience correlates with performance for people with 0-3 years experience, but the correlation is attenuates to just 0.15 at 12+ years of experience. This suggests that experience doesn't increase performance after any more than a few years experience.  On the other hand, social skills, a good mentor and interpersonal virtues predict success and happiness better than high education, IQ or cerebral virtues (unless you’re a theoretical physicist). This paradox between the relative importance of intelligence for the performance of a given employee, in contrast with the happiness and success of an employee is not described in earlier literature as far as I know.  


Voluntary behaviours such as mindfulness meditation are also useful. Supervisor mindfulness improves employee performance and well-being. Anecdotally, deep work [Wikipedia], avoiding both multitasking and excessive social media improve work performance.


'Success in interviews has more to do with attitude than skill (Duan & Kivlighan, 2002). Experiments have suggested that interpersonal influence is related to interpersonal attraction (Dillard & Marshall, 2003). Attitudes related to good interviewing skills include genuineness, warmth, understanding, acceptance, openness'

- Adam Karlovsky


How else can job-seekers, management, HR and recruitment personnel make better decisions? Evidence based hiring [news] is in its infancy but mitigating biases is possible. Awareness, of phenomenon like looking glass merit [opinion] is insufficient. Particular interventions like structured interview, demographic blind hiring [instructions] [opinion] [text] may work but general approaches to debiasing are also applicable. There are numerous other HR related tips and tricks such as role clarification [exercise] and work trials [exercise] [text].

Comments (4)

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 22 May 2017 01:44:43PM 1 point [-]

In the paragraph "What value can employees bring to the table? In terms of work performance" I think one of your links is broken.

Also I don't understand what the tags like "[instructions] [opinion] [text]" on your links mean.

Comment author: arunbharatula 24 May 2017 04:18:01AM *  0 points [-]

Thank you for letting me know about the broken link. I have googled the link (http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1015902-1,00.html) and it has been referenced by others. That suggests Time has taken down the article. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'm not aware of any place where it is mirrored.

I intended to tag each of my hyperlinks so that the evidence could be assessed at a glance.

e.g. cows are cool [meta-analysis]. Some elements I would have liked to include are:

  • Level of evidence
  • Population
  • Side effects
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Effect size
  • Uncertainty (e.g. variability in outcome, confidence intervals, methodological heterogeneity and sample sizes)
  • Instructions for application
  • Construct validity
  • Measurement protocol e.g. [Self-report]
  • Whether there is autoplay auditory content e.g. [Youtube]. Whereas [Wikipedia] and [peer reviewed] are typically text
  • Whether the content is a scientific source e.g. [peer reviewed]
  • Whether the content is a summary of all the relevant evidence on the topic e.g. [evidence summary] or a fragment e.g. [news]. [Peer reviewed] is also [evidence summary] where not otherwise stated
  • Whether the link is Not Safe For Work (NSFW)

    This is quite a large list and each tag would demand of me to scrutinize the primary literature. I abandoned the task as my primary intention was to provide a top-level overview of key conclusions in fields that are rather large but important.

Comment author: Peter_Hurford  (EA Profile) 25 May 2017 02:07:46AM 0 points [-]

so that the evidence could be assessed at a glance

Maybe put it in footnotes? Personally I find the tags make the article harder, not easier, to read.

Comment author: Julia_Wise  (EA Profile) 22 September 2017 07:44:09PM 0 points [-]

The author of this piece requested that it be removed.