Most Britons happy in their work

2006

Fewer than one British worker in 10 finds his or her job meaningless, a new study has suggested, with the vast majority saying they get personal fulfilment from their working life.

The survey by the Work Foundation is at odds with research published earlier this month by Investors in People that suggested fewer than half were happy with the way their careers were progressing.

The Work Foundation found more than two thirds of workers described their jobs as a source of personal fulfilment to them, with just nine per cent branding them "meaningless".

The study of more than 1,000 working people also found that most feel their work has got better since the beginning of their working lives.

A total of 60 per cent said their satisfaction with their work had increased since starting work, while some 31 per cent arguing it had gone down (eight per cent said it had stayed the same).

Some 78 per cent found their work "stimulating and challenging", with 55 per cent of people agreeing so strongly.

A total of 86 per cent disagreed with the statement "I regard my work as meaningless".

Such results indicated a strikingly positive attitude towards work, said the foundation.

But the survey also confirmed that work remained simply a way of making a living for many people.

Just over half said their work was a means to an end

Just over half said their work was a means to an end. People with lower pay and lower skills, perhaps unsurprisingly, tended to be less satisfied with their jobs than the higher skilled and higher paid.

Will Hutton, chief executive of The Work Foundation, said: "Traditionally, work has been seen as purely a grim economic necessity, which there is no getting out of, and little more to be said about.

"Our survey indicates that that view is no longer a fair reflection of how people feel. Today, work is increasingly thought of as a source of fulfilment, an important aspect of life that matters to people in a very personal way.

"Employers and organisations are going to have to think much harder about the jobs they offer. The wage packet still matters, but there are crucially important psychological, social, and personal dividends from work, too – it is about money and meaning," he added.

"Well over two thirds of workers regard work as a source of personal fulfilment to them, but only a very few employers ever succeed in making the most of this huge personal appetite for work that more and more people have," he concluded.

The survey also found that women were slightly more likely to be satisfied with their job compared with men.

The over-55s were more likely to be satisfied compared with younger workers, especially those aged 16-34 years.

Managers and professionals were more likely to be satisfied compared with other occupational groups.

And people earning more than £50,000 per year were more likely to be satisfied compared to those who earn less money.

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