Workers are unhappy at work

A recent survey reveals that only 41 per cent of British employees are happy at work

This is not good news for those of us who work in HR and who are trying to improve the employee experience. Moreover, unhappy employees usually means reduced productivity and possibly more sick days.

2000 workers were polled and of those, the survey revealed that younger workers were more unhappy than their older counterparts.

Workers are unhappy at work

There appear to be some gender differences in the results. 38 per cent of employees say that they regularly find themselves coming up against stressful situations, with 41 per cent of women saying this happens at least once per week. The stress is caused by a variety of causes such as unmanageable workloads and unrealistic expectations.

According to Kelly Feehan, Services Director at CABA, the charity that supports chartered accountants, employees are facing increasing demands all the time, with 22 per cent of employees checking their emails at weekends and during the evening. While 2 in 5 workers admit to regularly working on days off, weekends and during holidays, this is most pronounced in the 18-24 age group, where 53 per cent admit to doing this. This figure compares starkly with only 31 per cent of over 55’s.

Regional and role differences

Research also shows that there are regional differences in worker dissatisfaction, with the four most unhappy cities being Wolverhampton, Sunderland, Carlisle and Walsall. The nature of the jobs also has a bearing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who work in customer services and hospitality are the most dissatisfied, with construction workers being the least.

What can be done?

It’s always tricky in situations like this; there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. What one person finds stressful is within the comfort zone of another. Of course, HR professionals would always say that they don’t want people working out of hours (and they tend to be the worst offenders).

There are clearly changes required in organisational culture and leadership here, but they must be heartfelt and leaders must walk the talk. Staff surveys, anonymous, properly designed and preferably managed by an external company (to give employees confidence that they won’t be ‘named and shamed’) are a good way to find out what’s going on in your particular organisation. However, if you do conduct a survey, you must be prepared to act on the findings.

Consider introducing the Mental Health First Aid system too, so that you have people trained to spot early signs of stress. Check your workforce levels – do you have enough staff? Are they pulling their weight? Are they working in the right parts of the organisation?

These are just a few of the steps you can take. It may take some time, but it’s essential in ensuring (and retaining) a happy and productive workforce.

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