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Happiness at work is “a sorry state of affairs”

Deborah Frost
happiness

A benchmark happiness survey sees a slide of almost 20 percent in three years, in terms of workplace happiness. It’s a sorry state of affairs –as UK employees feel disengaged, disgruntled and dissatisfied at work. Contributor Deborah Frost, Chief Executive – Personal Group.

Worryingly it is frontline employees who feel the most negative about their working life in 2019, with 83 percent of frontline staff unable to recall anything that has made them feel more positive about their working life in the last month. The results of the survey carried out by Personal Group has revealed that only 41 percent of the workforce are happy most of the time at work.

This is echoed by worsening metrics around all employees’ keenness to get to work in the mornings and their enthusiasm for their job, both of which have seen dramatic negative movement over the past three years. In 2019, 47 percent of employees aren’t keen to get to work in the morning, up from 36 percent in 2017, and the number of employees who are enthusiastic about their job has slipped from 52 percent in 2017 to only 41 percent today. 

Deborah Frost, Chief Executive of Personal Group said: “At first glance these survey results seem to paint a bleak picture of UK workplaces in 2019, but the number of employees who feel they are working as efficiently as possible has actually increased year on year, suggesting that despite falling happiness levels, efficiency & productivity may be increasing.

On the whole, people inherently want to do a good job, and our role as employers should be to recognise and reward this effort. More recognition still remains one of the most sought after workplace benefits, so if companies across the UK want to remain competitive, it’s vital that they take the time to listen to their employees and understand the impact a positive working environment can have on workplace happiness, job satisfaction and organisational performance.”

Key survey highlights include: 

Happiness in the workplace
A mere 41 percent of employees are happy most of the time at work; 26 percent are rarely/ almost never happy. Over the past three years, employees seem to be getting unhappier in the workplace. Compared to 41 percent in 2019 and 43 percent in 2018, 51 percent were happy at work most of the time back in 2017. 

According to the survey, happiness in the workplace increases with seniority. In 2019, 68 percent of directors and company owners were happy most of the time at work, compared to only 37 percent of frontline employees and team members. 

The self-employed are the happiest at work (63 percent happy most of the time), followed by contractors (53 percent), with the directly employed showing the lowest happiness levels (39 percent)

Keen to get to work in the morning
47 percent of employees surveyed are rarely / almost never keen to get to work in the morning. This is a significant increase since 2017, when only 36 percent of employees surveyed were rarely/ almost never keen to get to work

Enthusiastic about your job
41 percent of employees are enthusiastic about their job most of the time or often. This has decreased since 2017 when over half of all employees surveyed (52 percent) were enthusiastic most of the time / often.

Women are more enthusiastic than men about their job (43 percent vs 37 percent feeling enthusiastic most of the time / often). 

Proud of what you do
Pride in our work appears to increase with age – which is reflected in all three years of the survey results. In 2019, 62 percent of those aged 50 plus are proud of the work they do most of the time compared to only 55 percent of 18 to 29-year olds. This is trend is reflected in the 2018 and 2017 results, with 67 percent and 77 percent of 50 plus compared to a lacklustre 48 percent and 51 percent of 18-29-year olds proud of the work they do most of the time.  

Pride in our work also increases with seniority, with 73 percent of company owners and directors feeling proud of what they do most of the time, versus only 51 percent of frontline staff 

In 2019, 58 percent of all employees surveyed were proud of the work they do most of the time. This has decreased since 2017 when 62 percent of employees surveyed were proud most of the time. 

Yet 16 percent of employees are rarely/ almost never proud of the work they do. This is consistent amongst both male and female employees (18 percent and 15 percent respectively). Perhaps unsurprisingly, 77 percent of the self-employed are proud of the work they do most of the time, closely followed by directors/company owners (73 percent). 

Your job is important and worthwhile
Only half (52 percent) of employees think their work is important and worthwhile, which is only a slight increase since 2017 when 51 percent of people felt their job was important and worthwhile. 

Working as efficiently as possible
Efficiency in the workplace appears to have increased over time, with 54 percent of employees saying they work efficiently most of time compared to 52 percent in 2018 and 51 percent in 2017. 

Efficiency levels in Senior Management and Heads of Departments have also significantly increased since 2018. The number who report never or rarely working as efficiently as possible has more than halved since 2018 (moving from 30 percent in 2018 to only 13 percent in 2019)

Feeling positive about your working life
A startling 79 percent of employees surveyed can’t recall anything from the last month that has made them feel more positive about working life. This is consistent amongst both men (78 percent) and women (80 percent). 

This statistic has increased since 2017, when 68 percent of employees said they couldn’t recall anything happening that had made them feel positive about their working life. 

Senior Managers / department heads feel the most positive in the workplace with 45 percentable to recall something positive from the past month. 

Yet over half of all employees (53 percent) can recall something specific happening in the past month that has made them feel less positive about working life. 

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