Quarter of Britons unhappy with their jobs

May 18 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Nearly a quarter of British workers are unhappy at work, and if you're male, work in IT in Manchester and have a male boss you're likely to be the most miserable of the lot.

The Happiness at Work survey of 1,000 office workers by recruitment consultancy Badenoch and Clark looked at a range of areas judged to impact on an individual's happiness levels, including working hours, modes of travel, bosses behaviour, work attire, relationships with colleagues and office space.

The UK's unhappiest office workers, it concluded, were male, working in IT or telecoms, had a male boss, lived in Manchester and had been working at the same company for more than ten years.

By comparison the happiest office workers were female lawyers living in Bristol who had worked for a female boss for fewer than five years, who commuted each day by car and were only required to wear casual business dress.

Lawyers overall came out on top in the survey as the happiest white collar workers.

Nearly three quarters said they were very happy at work, compared with just over a quarter of Britons working in IT and telecoms.

Among other findings, the survey found that, despite many firms promoting their flexible working credentials, only just over a quarter of office employees were able to work flexible hours to suit their own schedules.

The majority of UK office workers either worked fixed hours (9am to 6pm) or even longer. Just 9 per cent worked part time.

London was by far the worst place for expecting workers to get in early and stay late at night (a quarter), compared with four per cent in Glasgow, five per cent in Bristol and nine per cent in Manchester.

British men were generally an unhappier lot at work than women, with more than a a quarter saying they were miserable in their jobs compared with just over a fifth of women.

Six out of 10 office workers said they were far happier working for a female boss, with the most female bosses being found in Cardiff (two thirds).

In Leeds and Liverpool men still dominated senior positions (68 per cent and 67 per cent respectively, while London offices were fairly evenly split, at 58 per cent.

The happiest workers it concluded were from Bristol, where more than half said their jobs made them happy, closely followed by Londoners.

Mancunians were the least content, with just 37 per cent claiming to be happy at work.

This, said Badenoch and Clark, could be down to "dictatorial" bosses who were twice as likely to be found in Manchester (33 per cent) than in London (16 per cent).

A key factor of happiness at work was if you had friends and socialised through work.

Nearly half of British office workers had up to three colleagues they also considered real friends, although only five per cent considered more than ten colleagues to have this status.

Neil Wilson, Badenoch and Clark managing director, said: "Employers need to be aware that a significant number of their employees are currently unhappy at work, possibly even contemplating a change in companies.

"Attracting and retaining talent is one of the biggest challenges facing UK management, particularly in markets where skills are in high demand. It's essential that employers understand what motivates and enthuses their workforce.

"Benefits, opportunities to work flexibly, management style and work environments will all have an impact. Employee feedback from existing and departing employees will help frame this," he added.