Recent Studies on Happiness-at-work, Job Satisfaction and Work-life Balance

Name of Study/ Aurthors of Study/ Source of Study Frequency/ Date of Survey Country/ Sample Size/
Target Group of Study
Key Findings
The happiness at work index
Badenoch & Clark
Quarterly 2007 to 2010 UK,
1,000 UK office workers
In the latest survey, 78% of respondents reported high levels of happiness in the workplace, a 2% increase compared to the last quarterly Index.
About 18% of respondents was actively looking to change jobs and over 41% expected to change jobs this year.
Around 24% of respondents were forced to take jobs they were over-qualified for or in a sector unrelated to their core career during the recession.
Neil Wilson, managing director of Badenoch & Clark commented, "Wherever possible, employers should capitalise on the greater feelings of optimism and happiness amongst their workforce by looking to enhance employees' current roles.
City and Guilds Happiness Index
City and Guilds
2004 to 2008
2,000 workers from 20 professions

The latest survey reveals that The West Midlands is home to the happiest workers in the UK.
Beauty therapists are the happiest workers in the UK with an average happiness level of almost 9 out of 10.
57% have remained with present employers as a result of a strong interest in what they do for a living.
56% stayed because of good relationships with colleagues.
48% of the UK’s workforce appreciated their work/life balance.
44% remained in the job solely because of salary.
The top three reasons for a worker to be happy, according to Prof. Cooper, are:
- An interest in the job;
- Good relationships with colleagues;
- Good work-life balance

Drivers of happiness were found to vary over the life cycle:
• For the under 30s in the early stages of their careers, financial security
and good relationships with colleagues are the most important;
• Financial security remains important to those in their thirties, as many
people buy their first homes and start families;
• Beyond 40, work-life balance begins to play a more critical
role – indeed 96% of workers aged 40-49 claim work-life balance is the most important factor for determining their happiness at work
• After turning 50, an interest in what we do for a living becomes the number one driver of workplace happiness

2008 - Sky-high salaries fail to please UK Workers:
According to the fifth (2008)annual survey, having an interest in what you do for a living is the number one factor for ensuring on-the-job contentment.

What Workers Want
Trades and Union Congress (TUC)
2008 UK
2,857 Non self-employed workers Over 600 in small businesses
60% of the workers either tended to agree or strongly agree that they were satisfied with their job, although less than one in five (18 per cent) strongly agreed.
The commonest problems at work that people reported:
Pay – just 42% of the workforce said that their pay has not kept up with the cost of living and 26% said that their workplace had unfair pay structures.
Workloads, stress and hours – the biggest complaint was increased workload, with 39% complaining of increased stress and 23% of longer working hours.
Training and progression – 30% complained of gloom promotion prospects and 27% said training was lacked.
Those who were dissatisfied with their job in general reported much higher levels of boring, repetitive work, little opportunity to progress and insufficient training – a significant group of the workforce was stuck in boring dead-end jobs.
Employees working in small businesses had the highest job satisfaction rate (21% of them strongly agree with it and 41% of them tend to agree).
Small business employees were the most committed (64%) and loyal (58%) to their organizations.
The Wall Street Journal Europe Global Survey of happiness  
The Wall Street Journal Europe and iOpener Institute
Annually 2006 to 2011 Over 80 countries Over 2,000 with over 90 nationalities in 80 countries, from over 30 sectors Germans topped the table of feelings of commitment, culture and pride in their organizations. In addition, they reported a particular high rate on the fairness of workplace cultures. They also scored highly in the aspects of liking their jobs and colleagues.
British was one of the nationalities reporting the highest happiest at work. They scored at or above average on all measures of commitment, culture and pride. In contrast, they scored just below average for the element of feelings of “doing something worthwhile.
Older employees scored significantly higher on all 5Cs and trust, recognition and pride than the younger groups. However, the improvements were not immediate.
There were only tiny differences between the happiness at work of 21-30’s and 31-40’s in general. In fact, the youngest employees scored slightly higher than the generation above them on elements such as trusting the vision of their organization’s leaders, liking their colleagues and feeling the workplace culture was fair. However, for the beyond 40 group, happiness at work increased stably through to the 60 or above age group.
Vice Presidents and senior Vice presidents scored lower than average on the majority of items measuring happiness at work as well as scoring lower than the groups both directly below and above them in the hierarchy.
German Socio-Economic Panel Survey,  British Household Panel Survey,  Swiss Household Panel Survey 
Matthias Benz and Bruno S. Frey
1984-2004 West Germany, (GSOEP): 70,229
UK (BHPS): 52,002
Switzerland (SHP): 3,431
The self-employed reported the highest level of job satisfaction among different occupations because of greater independence and autonomy enjoyed.
Autonomy was highly appreciated because it was associated with the chance of working independently, but the self-employed also seemed to enjoy their work because they perceived their jobs as more interesting.
The U.S. Conference Board commissions TNS,
a global market research company
1987 to 2009
5,000 employees
Fewer Americans were satisfied with all aspects of their employment for all age and income groups relative to the findings in 1987 when the first survey kick-started.
Satisfaction in various aspects of employee life, including interest in work and job security declined over the past 22 years.
45% of the respondents were happy in their jobs. Particularly, the youngest group (those currently under age 25) reported a record high level of job dissatisfaction.
65% of the respondents said they like their co-workers, slightly less than the 57 percent who said so last year but down from 68 percent in 1987.
56% said they were satisfied with their commute to work even as commute times have grown longer over the years. That compares with 54% in 2008 and 63% in 1987.
51% said they were satisfied with their bosses. That's down from 55% in 2008 and around 60% two decades ago.
Captivate Office Pulse Survey
Captivate Network commissions MarketTools
Captivate commissioned MarketTools, the leader in software and services for Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) and Market Research to build and manage the panel across Captivate’s footprint of 1,000+ class A office buildings.
2011 US and Canada
Over 4,000 white-collar professionals
Female workers were 33 % unhappier than male workers with work life balance:
“The disparity between men and women when it comes to work-life balance is telling,” said Dr. Gilda Carle, a psychotherapist specializing in work-life issues. “It reflects the reality that while women are as active as men in the workplace, they’re still expected to bear most of the responsibility for domestic activities.”
Snapshots: Happy and Unhappy People Profiles
When it comes to extreme happiness (in the office and at home), men are consistently happier than women. Men are 25 percent happier at work than women, eight percent happier at home and 75 percent of them report being able to balance their work and personal lives.
So who is the extremely happy person, both at home and at work? He’s 39 years old, married, with a household income between $150-$200 thousand, in a senior management position, with one young child at home and a wife who works part-time.
What’s the profile of an unhappy person in the office and at home? She’s a 42 year old, unmarried woman with a household income under $100 thousand, working in a professional position (i.e. as a doctor or a lawyer).
For the extremely happy category men were 25 % happier at work than women.
The profile of extreme happiness: male, 39 years old, married, household income $150,000 – $200,000, a senior management position, 1 young child, a wife who works part-time.
The profile of extreme unhappiness: female, 42 years old, unmarried, household income < $100,000, a professional position (e.g. doctor, lawyer).
25 % of the respondents reported that their companies created special “wellness programs” to support work-life balance, but few of them actually seemed to benefit. Workers in those companies without wellness programs were 23 % happier and balanced.
The survey shows that men were 25% happier at work and 8% happier at home than women were.
General Social Survey (GSS)
National Opinion Research Center at the
University of Chicago
2006 US
Around 27,000
Firefighters, the clergy and other professions involved in helping people were found to be more satisfied with their jobs as well as happier overall.
Employee Engagement Index survey
Gallup Organization GMJ
2000 – 2005 US
Around 1,000
A strong relationship between worker happiness and workplace engagement was found. Happy and engaged employees were much more likely to enjoy a positive relationship with their boss, and they were also better equipped to handle new challenges and changes, felt they were more valued by their bosses, more effective to cope with stress, and were more satisfied with their lives.
45% of engaged employees said they get a great deal of their overall happiness from their work life, compared to just 19% of not-engaged and 8% of actively disengaged employees. These findings suggest that while most workers experience varying degrees of happiness and wellbeing at work, engaged workers get the most from these feelings.
Negative feelings at work also seem to spill over into actively disengaged workers' home lives. The survey asked respondents if they had three or more days in the past month when work stress caused them to behave poorly with friends or family members. More than half (54%) of actively disengaged workers and 31% of not-engaged workers answered yes to this question, while just 17% of engaged workers answered yes. These results are similar to those reported in previous surveys.
City & Guilds commissions the Research Pacific Group
2007 Hong Kong
Around 900 (20 sectors)
63% of the respondents reported a score of 7 or above on a 10-point scale when asked how happy they are.
66% of young employees (aged below 30) declared that they were happy, which was similar to the finding of old group (aged 50 or above) that 68% of them reported to be happy. As a comparison, the middle age group employees (aged 30-49) were revealed to be the least happy with a rate at 61.5%.
2007 Taiwan
8,892 workers (aged between 16 and 64)
2005 12 Mainland Cities 以上海、南京、杭州、廣州為代表的東部城市的快樂指數遠遠低於以成都、重慶、西安為代表的中西部城市。總的來說是快樂的佔37.7%,選擇不快樂的時候多的佔41.6%,還有20.6%的受訪者表示很痛苦,想換工作。總體來看,工作不快樂者居多,佔62.3%,顯示出中國職場「快樂指數」低迷。
To your happiness? Extra hours of labor
supply and worker well-being
2002 General Social Survey (GSS)
Quality of Working Life (QWL)
Lonnie Golden and Barbara Wiens-Tuers
Paper published:
Survey conducted: 2002
Around 2765
When overtime work is required, this appears to offset the greater happiness associated with the additional income.
Mandatory overtime work is associated with additional work–family interference and unhappiness for some workers but not for others.
Paper: Well-Being, Insecurity and the Decline of
American Job Satisfaction
Surveys: General Social Survey(GSS)
International Social Survey Programme(ISSP)
David G. Blanchflower and Andrew J. Oswald
1973 – 1996 US & Europe The majority of workers in the industrial democracies are much more contented with their jobs.
The fall in job satisfaction is not explained by the decay of unions or the emergence of a slowly increasing job-insecurity in the US.
Self-reported well-being is higher among women, the self-employed, supervisors, and those with secure jobs especially.
Paper: Why So Unhappy? The Effects of Unionization on
Job Satisfaction
Survey: British Workplace Employee Relations Survey 1998 (WERS)
Alex Bryson, Lorenzo Cappellari and Claudio Lucifora
Paper published: 2010
Survey conducted: 1998
employees (all sectors except agriculture)
There is a negative relationship between union membership and job satisfaction, but this is largely due to endogenous sorting: unhappy workers join unions in the strife for better pay or better working conditions. Once endogeneity is controlled unions have no effect on job satisfaction.