The nature of a person's employment, or lack of it, represents a critical factor influencing the quality of his life. The importance of employment arises not only from the income which work provides for an individual, but also from a variety of other attributes. This paper seeks to draw attention to the broader range of benefits which employment can generate and to consider their significance in the context of some areas of rural policy. After a brief discussion of the non-financial benefits of employment, it is argued that, if current trends continue, the relative importance of these benefits may be expected to increase. This would reduce the relevance of policy studies which ignore these issues and influence the appropriate organisation of some forms of economic activity. Part-time employment in the rural sector is highlighted as an area where these trends have already had important effects. The paper concludes with a consideration of the implications for adjustment policy and alternative lifestyles.