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Today we publish our new report – Do all job changes increase wellbeing? This analysis focuses on different types of job transitions, how they impact wellbeing, and which ones lead to the greatest wellbeing changes.

Moving between jobs is now seen as a common reality of most people’s working lives, and we know that government and employer policies can affect both the frequency and type of job mobility happening in the UK, for example through policies that address the supply of skills in the UK which help to better match people with jobs.

Because of this, it’s important to better understand:

  • the relationship between changing jobs and wellbeing
  • which types of job change are associated with the largest wellbeing changes.

We consider:

  1. changing jobs with the same employer
  2. changing employers for a better job – for instance one with higher wages, more desirable hours, or a permanent contract.
  3. changing employers because of redundancy, dismissal or end of contract
  4. changing employers for other reasons, for example family reasons or moving out of the area.

This allows us to consider whether any change in wellbeing following a job change reflects a change in the workplace, the nature of the work or the factors leading to the change.

 Key findings

  • Changing jobs affects not just job satisfaction, but mental health.
  • Wellbeing dips before a job change, rises afterwards but the boost is typically short-lived, particularly for mental health, returning to average levels in the year after the job change.
  • If we change our workplace – but not employer or job – we do not necessarily experience any change in wellbeing, when compared to others who don’t make any changes.
  • The largest changes to job satisfaction are linked to changing both the job and employer, especially when the new job is a better job in some other way.

Job change and gender

Despite the impact of changing jobs on job satisfaction and mental health, the results suggest that the positive impact of a job change is not relevant enough to spill-over to overall satisfaction with life. The possible exception is life satisfaction of men before the job change, which appears lower than the average.

This data analysis is in line with the findings from our systematic review on job progression. This identifies the short-term benefits to our wellbeing of progression, which fade over time, and which can lead to poorer mental health in the long term. In this analysis, we only focus on job-to-job changes without intervening spells of unemployment  or inactivity.

For policy makers and employers, these findings suggest that:

  • The benefits of job changes are short-lived. As such, improving the quality of jobs and mental health for all employees may have a more long-term and sustainable impact on wellbeing and improving staff retention for employers.
  • Reducing the barriers for people who wish to move on from their current role would be helpful in supporting the wellbeing of these individuals and in turn labour market mobility and firm productivity. This is because changing jobs, particularly to a new employer, can provide a boost to people’s wellbeing, at least in the short-term and particularly where people have been experiencing a decline in their job satisfaction.