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More Than a Third of UK Workers Are Unhappy in Their Jobs

Caption: More than a third of UK workers are unhappy in their jobs
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A bunch of us UK workers (36%, to be exact) are miserable in our jobs, new research has found.

The study, from employment website Indeed’s Work Happiness Score, found that only 27% of Brits report being happy at work most of the time, and people are looking to refocus their career priorities with happiness at the forefront.

Worryingly, workplace unhappiness is seeping into workers’ personal lives, with nearly three quarters (72%) admitting that their workplace unhappiness has negatively impacted their physical and/or mental wellbeing.

For a third of people, this has led to physical symptoms such as headaches and migraines (55%) and insomnia (53%), and 22% admit to taking their work frustrations out on their partners. 

Supporting research of 2,000 British employees found the average worker spends a fifth of every year feeling unhappy in their role. More worryingly, one in 10 (11%) even start feeling unhappy less than six months into a new job.

These figures paint a stark and depressing picture of work in the UK but, thankfully, the pandemic has led more people (24%) to re-evaluate how happy they feel at work. 

The research found that ‘The Great Resignation,’ – a mass exodus of workers sparked by the pandemic – is far from over, with a quarter of people saying the pandemic forced them to reflect on their current career

Half of all workers now feel more motivated to make changes to their career, with 91% of those planning to change jobs citing happiness as one of the most important factors in their decision. 

For those looking to change jobs, a higher salary (31%), better work-life balance (21%), and more praise and recognition (19%) are the main motivators. 

The research also looked at which industries have the highest workplace happiness score.

It found that those who work in real estate are the unhappiest workers, followed by the management and consulting and automotive industries. 

Meanwhile, the happiest industries in the country include teaching, aerospace and defence, and government and public administration.

The 10 happiest sectors in the UK

Aerospace & defense
Media & communications 
Government & public administration 
Information technology 
Nonprofit & NGO 
Human resources & staffing
Personal consumer services 
Hotels, travel & accommodation 

The 10 unhappiest sectors in the UK

Real estate
Management & consulting
Restaurants & food services
Transportation & logistics
Arts, entertainment & recreation 
Retail & wholesale

The Workplace Happiness Score was developed with guidance from Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics at Saïd Business School and Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University and Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California.

It currently displays data for over 1,800 organisations in the UK across 25 different sectors and has so far had more than 170,000 UK responses and six million globally.

It asks workers to rate companies on a scale of one to five based on a simple statement and considers factors of Belonging; Appreciation; Inclusion; Support; Purpose; Energy; Learning; Achievement; Trust; Flexibility; Compensation; Stress Level; Satisfaction and Manager Support.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics at Saïd Business School and Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University, said: ‘Happiness at work is critical to people’s wellbeing but it is also a driver of their productivity and success. 

More: Money

‘So employers are well advised to get the emotional pulse of their organisation and have a frequent measure of workplace happiness.’

LaFawn Davis, Senior Vice President, Environmental, Social and Governance at Indeed, added: ‘Happiness should not be a privilege but when it comes to work, it’s a fundamental right. 

‘Measuring happiness is key to understanding employee experience and creating happier organisations, which is why Indeed worked with experts to develop the Work Happiness Score. 

‘It offers further transparency to help job seekers and employers make better choices and build a better world of work. 

‘For employers, this means taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, and our Work Happiness Score will make it easier for them to measure drivers of happiness to see where improvements can be made. 

‘For jobseekers, the feature provides key insights into work environments where they will be happiest.’

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