Work Is More Than Paycheck, Benefits to Most Americans

News Updates

Workers might daydream about winning the big lottery and spending the rest of their lives on a tropical island or fishing in a mountain stream, but most Americans have a strong work ethic and derive satisfaction from what they do.

Nearly two-thirds of 742 full-time U.S. workers “live to work,” and 21 percent of them would continue working even if they won the lottery, according to findings from the latest of CIGNA’s “Health and Well-Being in America” survey series.

But the overall mood in the workplace has changed for the worse in the past six months, 60 percent of workers said. Thirty-four percent are afraid they might lose their job, and 30 percent are feeling more job pressure or stress.

Other findings from the phone survey conducted in January and February 2009:

  • Of the 65 percent of respondents who “live to work,” 31 percent like their job and receive a sense of satisfaction from what they do; 13 percent said work gives their life structure.
  • 71 percent of women and 59 percent of men “live to work.”
  • Women tended to cite the people they worked with as a factor in liking their job; men tended to cite pride in their work.
  • 35 percent “work to live”—their job is a paycheck or benefits, or they are stuck in a job they don’t like or are unable to retire because of the recession.

Only 17 percent of those surveyed had been out of work for an extended period because of illness or injury during their career, but 62 percent said they would feel vulnerable if injury or illness prevented them from working and paying the mortgage or household bills.

“These survey results point to the central role that work plays in people’s lives and how much it contributes to their sense of well-being,” said Beth Chiappetta in a press release. She is director of CIGNA’s return-to-work program operations.

The findings didn’t indicate the types of work performed by those surveyed, but ranked what it considers the 200 best and worst professions based on work environment, income, a profession’s prospects for the future, physical demands and stress.

The 10 best jobs in America, according to

  • Mathematician.
  • Actuary.
  • Statistician.
  • Biologist.
  • Software engineer.
  • Computer systems analyst.
  • Historian.
  • Sociologist.
  • Industrial designer.
  • Accountant.

And the 10 worst jobs:

  • Lumberjack.
  • Dairy farmer.
  • Taxi driver.
  • Seaman.
  • Emergency medical technician.
  • Roofer.
  • Collector.
  • Welder.
  • Roustabout.
  • Ironworker.