French workers are world's biggest whingers

May 15 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Despite enjoying among the longest holidays and the shortest working weeks in the world, the French have emerged from a new global survey as being the most unhappy with their pay and working hours.

A study of attitudes carried out among almost 14,000 employees in 23 countries by research group FDS found that workers in Britain and Sweden are joint second in the whinging league table, with Americans ranking fourth on the list and Australians fifth.

Japanese workers, meanwhile, have the lowest level of morale, but – in common with their similarly miserable counterparts in Germany – appear not to complain as vocally as the French or British.

In contrast, those happiest with their lot at work are the Dutch, followed by their Thai and Irish counterparts.

"It is interesting to note that after France, Britain and Sweden, the world's biggest workplace whingers are Americans, despite their having by far the highest levels of income," said FDS managing director, Charlotte Cornish.

"Compare them to Thai workers: while real levels of income are more than eight times higher in the States, more workers in the US feel their pay is a problem than in Thailand."

"The UK and US, with their marked competitive individualism and unequal wealth distribution, both appear towards the top of the list of whingiest workers," she added.

Other than morale, the survey revealed big differences around other issues including pay and work-life balance, as well as average working hours.

For example, four out of 10 Britons said they were not satisfied with their pay, compared with just 15 per cent of their counterparts in Ireland.

Similarly, over a third of Britons feel they don't get enough holidays – the highest percentage in Europe. But despite having the equivalent of just 29 days holiday a year, only 13 per cent of workers in Ireland whinge about their lack of holidays.

But as Charlotte Cornish pointed out, even six week of annual holiday can't seem to persuade the French to stop complaining.

"It seems unlikely that Nicolas Sarkozy's election and the likely shift to more Anglo-Saxon economic practices will make workers in France any more happy with their lot," she said.