Key happiness at work benchmark slides almost 20% in three years

Friday, May 24, 2019

A sorry state of affairs – new survey shows UK employees feel disengaged, disgruntled and dissatisfied at work

The results show a 20% drop in happiness at work over the past three years. Today, only 41% of the workforce are happy most of the time at work, down from 43% in 2018 and 51% in 2017.

Worryingly it is frontline employees who feel the most negative about their working life in 2019, with 83% of frontline staff unable to recall anything that has made them feel more positive about their working life in the last month.  

This sorry state 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% of employees aren’t keen to get to work in the morning, up from 36% in 2017, and the number of employees who are enthusiastic about their job has slipped from 52% in 2017 to only 41% 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% of employees are happy most of the time at work; 26% are rarely/ almost never happy.
  • Over the past three years, employees seem to be getting unhappier in the workplace. Compared to 41% in 2019 and 43% in 2018, 51% 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% of directors and company owners were happy most of the time at work, compared to only 37% of frontline employees and team members.
  • The self-employed are the happiest at work (63% happy most of the time), followed by contractors (53%), with the directly employed showing the lowest happiness levels (39%)

Keen to get to work in the morning

  • 47% 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% of employees surveyed were rarely/ almost never keen to get to work

Enthusiastic about your job

  • 41% 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%) were enthusiastic most of the time / often.
  • Women are more enthusiastic than men about their job (43% vs 37% 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% of those aged 50 plus are proud of the work they do most of the time compared to only 55% of 18 to 29-year olds. This is trend is reflected in the 2018 and 2017 results, with 67% and 77% of 50 plus compared to a lacklustre 48% and 51% 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% of company owners and directors feeling proud of what they do most of the time, versus only 51% of frontline staff
  • In 2019, 58% of all employees surveyed were proud of the work they do most of the time. This has decreased since 2017 when 62% of employees surveyed were proud most of the time.
  • Yet 16% of employees are rarely/ almost never proud of the work they do. This is consistent amongst both male and female employees (18% and 15% respectively).
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, 77% of the self-employed are proud of the work they do most of the time, closely followed by directors/company owners (73%).

Your job is important and worthwhile

  • Only half (52%) of employees think their work is important and worthwhile, which is only a slight increase since 2017 when 51% 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% of employees saying they work efficiently most of time compared to 52% in 2018 and 51% 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% in 2018 to only 13% in 2019)

Feeling positive about your working life

  • A startling 79% 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%) and women (80%).
  • This statistic has increased since 2017, when 68% 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%able to recall something positive from the past month.

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

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