Large companies and employees' wellbeing

Photo by Norma Mortenson on Pexels

For this survey, members of the World Wellbeing Panel were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with two statements related to type of job and wellbeing:

(i) “The wellbeing of workers in casual employment connected to large companies (eg. Uber drivers, delivery jobs, and big chain workers) is lower than in more independent jobs (eg. own shops and restaurants, and small services)” and

(ii) “Policies that favor large companies (via tax, regulation, or barriers to competitors) are likely to reduce the wellbeing of the population in the longer run.”

The vast majority of the 19 panelists who responded to this survey agreed with the first statement that the wellbeing of workers in casual employment connected to large companies is lower than in more independent jobs.

In their responses, they cited the consistently higher job satisfaction scores for self-employed or individuals within small firms due to factors such as independence and job autonomy, personal growth, and meaning. The panelists also noted that poor working conditions for gig workers in large companies are detrimental to wellbeing. These conditions include lower wages, lack of health coverage, little training and poor promotion opportunities, as well as uncertain or fluctuating incomes. However, the panelists put this negative impact in context by pointing out that some of these workers might not have a job at all if such positions were unavailable.

Regarding the second statement, almost all of the panelists agreed that favorable tax policies for large companies are bad for wellbeing over time.

Some of the reasons they agreed with this statement included: lower market efficiency, and thus, reduced welfare; downward pressure on wages; less efficiency and innovation; exclusion of small independent companies from tax and subsidy advantages; and reduced trust in institutions. The panelists argued that such policies could lead to a race to the bottom for welfare provision, with large companies shopping around for favorable low taxes, putting an excessive burden on small companies and the many casual workers who work in them.

Some panelists mentioned the political distortion that occurs when large companies accumulate too much power, which can even jeopardize democracy. Governments might fail to regulate in ways that favors the general population, which might increases inequality and decrease wellbeing. Ultimately, policies favoring large companies have the potential to destroy small companies and the overall wellbeing of society.

List of respondents to this survey

About the World Wellbeing Panel