Research confirms work satisfaction working in the sector

New research from the Third Sector Research Centre confirms what many have often asserted – those working in the voluntary sector are more satisfied with their jobs.

The research uses robust analysis from 17 years’ worth of high quality data to compare job satisfaction in the third sector with job satisfaction in the public and private sectors.

The research controls for other variables that might explain these differences – such as differences in personal characteristics like age, and different working hours and job characteristics – and finds that there is still higher job satisfaction in the voluntary sector.

The research highlights an ‘unexplained factor’ in the differences in job satisfaction – empirically identifying what is often seen as the ‘warm glow’ of working in the voluntary sector.

The research uses data from 17 waves of the British Household Panel survey, which allows it to compare differences in job satisfaction over time. While voluntary sector workers still have higher job satisfaction, the advantage enjoyed over other sectors seems to have decreased over time.

In 1993, 62% of all workers gave a level of satisfaction with their jobs that was 6 or 7 (with 7 meaning completely satisfied and 1 meaning not satisfied at all). Among those working for non-profits, the corresponding proportion was 75%. In 2008, 60% of all workers gave a level of satisfaction of either 6 or 7. For non-profit employees, the corresponding proportion was 66%.

Chiara Paola Donegani, associate fellow at TSRC, said: "There have often been reports of higher job satisfaction in the voluntary sector. While it appears to be falling, this research confirms that it still exists.

"The novel thing about this research is that it seems to empirically confirm the existence of a ‘warm glow’ that goes beyond the different job and personal characteristics of employees.

"This is not to say that these other factors are not important – working hours, pay, autonomy and involvement all contribute to greater job satisfaction, and will be important in maintaining a voluntary sector premium!"

    Share Story:

Recent Stories


How to elevate your non-profit storytelling with data and performance metrics.
Sage Intacct the non-profit financial management platform, takes a look at giving trends and insights.

What has the pandemic taught us about the public’s perception of charities?
In this episode of the Charity Times Leadership podcast, we take a look at what the pandemic has taught us about the public’s perception of charities. Charity fundraising platform, Enthuse, recently released its quarterly donor research study, which highlighted significant shifts in donor behaviour throughout the duration of the pandemic. Not only does the report highlight an overarching sense of positivity towards the sector, but a propensity for younger generations to give more generously, too. Lauren Weymouth is joined by Enthuse CEO, Chester Mojay-Sinclare to discuss more.

The importance of the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’
In this episode, Lauren Weymouth is joined by Ketan Patel, equities fund manager at EdenTree, to delve into the issue of social investment and why that all-important ‘S’ in ESG is more relevant now than ever before. The social element of ESG often gets forgotten when thinking about investing in more ethical and sustainable ways. But, after a challenging year for all areas of society, social injustice has been highlighted, and there’s a much greater need for charities to put people at the heart of their investment decisions.