This group of people are the happiest workers in the world

The happiest people at work probably aren’t in your office.

Though there are certain companies everyone wants to work for with incredible perks, it seems that many people would actually trade all that as well as a steady paycheck, an HR department, and many other things to be self-employed.

According to a new study by from the Universities of Sheffield and Exeter of 5,000 people from around the world, when it came to work satisfaction it was found that those who were self-employed “were not only amongst the most engaged but also experienced greater opportunities for innovation, achieving challenging targets and meeting high standards.”

In the study, published in the journal Work, Employment and Society, researchers examined data from 5,000 workers in the UK, the United States, Australia and New Zealand across industries including health, finance and education. They also looked at workers at different levels including non-managerial workers, supervisors, middle managers, and senior managers and directors.

The self-employed people popped up in various sectors including finance, insurance and retail and at different levels. The self-employed workers were found to be the most engaged, found more innovative opportunities

Autonomy is most valued by the self-employed

The study found that those who were self-employed were not only amongst the most engaged but also had more opportunities for innovation and accomplishing challenging tasks.

Co-author Professor Peter Warr, from the Institute of Work Psychology at the University of Sheffield, said in a press release, “Professional workers who are self-employed really value the autonomy they have. They have the freedom to innovate, express their own views, have influence beyond their own role and compete with other companies and people.”

Feeling more in control and autonomous is the reason many people go into business for themselves, despite the fact that it can be risky and expensive. The U.S. Minority Business Development Agency says it can cost $30,000 to get a business running but that depends on your type of work.

However, according to Freshbooks annual self-employment report, 54% of freelancers make more money than those who work full-time for one company, 68% have more work-life balance and 47% have more career certainty. Even though self-employed workers may have to work more, at first at least, they are still happier.

“They really get to use their own expertise, so don’t seem to mind working long hours. They can find meeting high standards really fulfilling,” Parr added.

As for who was the least happy, the study found that non-managerial company workers were the least satisfied and engaged.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.