In 2000, NIOSH entered into an interagency agreement with the National Science Foundation to add a special module assessing the quality of work life in America to the 2002 General Social Survey. The General Social Survey is a biannual, nationally representative, personal interview survey of U.S. households conducted by the National Opinion Research Center and funded by the National Science Foundation. Using a small group process with internal and external expert teams, NIOSH selected 76 questions dealing with a wide assortment of work organization issues. These include (but are not limited to) hours of work, workload, worker autonomy, layoffs and job security, job satisfaction/stress, and worker well-being. Half of the questions in the Quality of Worklife module were taken directly from the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey, allowing comparisons of worker responses over a 25-year period.

The primary goals of the Quality of Worklife module are to measure how work life and the work experience have changed since the earlier Quality of Employment Surveys and to establish benchmarks for future surveys. Secondary goals include measuring the relationship between job/organizational characteristics and worker health and safety and identifying targets for health and safety preventive interventions.

The personal interview data were collected in the Fall/Winter of 2002 and the final dataset contains responses from 1,796 persons. The QWL module was re-administered in the Fall/Winter of 2006 and 2010. Responses came from 1,734 and 1,187 persons, respectively. The 2006 module was identical to the 2002 module. The 2010 module was modified slightly to reflect emerging risk factors to worker safety and health. These modifications included the addition of four new items, the revision of one 2002/2006 item, and the removal of five 2002/2006 items. The following list of module categories and constructs indicates where these modifications occurred.

Categories and Constructs Measured

Job level (41 items):

  • Workload
  • Skill utilization
  • Participation
  • Job future
  • Repetitive work
  • Resource adequacy
  • Reward/recognition
  • Skill utilization
  • Supervisory behavior
  • Promotions
  • Variety
  • Occupation
  • Job tenure
  • Training
  • Layoffs
  • Teamwork
  • Role clarity
  • Role conflict
  • Staffing
  • Safety & health
  • Fairness
  • Stress Management
  • Physical effort
  • Other

Culture/climate (11 items):

  • Safety climate
  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Mgt. relationship

Health Outcomes (9 items):

  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Injuries
  • Sleep problems

Other Outcomes (7 items):

  • Performance
  • Satisfaction
  • Intent to leave
  • Job commitment
  • Overtime
  • Flexibility

Hours of work (2 items):

Work/family (4 items)
Supervision (3 items)
Benefits (1 item)
Union (1 item)

Download the Questionnaire

Quality of Worklife Questionnaire