Does occupational mobility improve job satisfaction?
Highlights from Research Brief 3:
- The impact of occupational mobility on job satisfaction depends on the direction of travel on the occupational ladder.
- Upward occupational mobility (defined by a change of occupation from lower to higher skilled occupational class) leads to a significant increase in job satisfaction upon initial turnover. However, the ‘honeymoon’ effect dissipates over time as individuals settle into their new jobs.
- Downward occupational mobility (defined by a change of occupation from higher to lower skilled occupational class) does not generate a ‘honeymoon’ effect upon turnover. Instead, it results in dissatisfaction that lasts for several years after the transition.
- Compared to upward and downward occupational mobility, lateral occupational mobility (defined by a change of occupation within the same broad occupational class) has least impact on subsequent job satisfaction trajectory.
- The effect of occupational mobility on job satisfaction is moderated by the individual’s personality, particularly in terms of one’s level of neuroticism.
- While emotionally stable employees quickly return to their baseline wellbeing regardless of the direction of occupational mobility, those high in neuroticism react more strongly to both upward and downward mobility. The effect is particularly striking for downward mobility, which is followed by a steep decline of job satisfaction that lasts for at least four years after turnover.
- Downward occupational mobility appears to have stronger and more enduring effects on job satisfaction compared to the transient positive effect of upward occupational mobility. In other words, ‘bad is stronger than good’.
The full brief can be read here.Back to blog