6.5 million UK workers are unhappy at work

unhappy workers

Research shows that the unhappiest workers are in Yorkshire and the Humber where just two in five claim not to be happy while the happiest workers hail from the East Midlands with a whopping 80 per cent claiming to be happy.

Happiness increases steadily during the working week, with almost a third saying they rate happiness as either poor or very poor on Mondays compared to Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Perks for a happy work life

The power of ‘Thank You’ in business has been an overlooked and often underestimated resource, yet its influence to elevate moods, increase engagement and uplift productivity is profound. Over two thirds of UK workers rate company perks and benefits as important to their overall satisfaction and more than a quarter rate lack of reward and recognition for good work as their number one grievance at work.

Despite this overwhelming demand from employees for rewards and benefits, over half of UK companies do not formally recognise outstanding employees on a regular basis, while 44 per cent believe that rewards and recognition are either very or extremely relevant to their business.

Younger workers are more likely to be motivated by company perks and benefits than the older generation, with 78 per cent of 18 – 24 year olds versus 58 per cent of 55 – 64 year olds saying that perks and benefits are either important or very important to their overall satisfaction at work.

The majority of 18 – 24 year olds and 25 – 34 year olds say they would be more likely to stay with their current employer if they were to implement better employee benefits, demonstrating the importance of rewards beyond salaries to the Millennial Generation – and the need to review remuneration packages on a regular basis.

In London, nearly half of workers would be likely to switch to a job that offered better benefits and overall women are more likely than men to consider work/life balance an important factor in switching jobs.

Unhappiness at work

As well as lack of reward and recognition in the workplace, UK workers reported that a toxic negative culture at work was their biggest grievance, cited by 21 per cent of respondents, while 17 per cent highlighted micro management and 15 per cent said long hours.

The research showed that more men than women would tell their boss if they are unhappy at work while older workers, 55+, are more likely to tell their boss if they are unhappy than younger workers.

The research also showed that one in five workers believe their boss would be moderately or not at all supportive if they told them they were unhappy in their jobs.  Younger workers feel more supported by their bosses than the older generation, with two thirds of 18 – 24 year olds believing that if they told their bosses they were unhappy, they would be either moderately or very supportive, compared with just 49 per cent of 55 – 64 year olds.

While most UK workers are relatively positive about their boss overall, with 15 per cent saying their boss is ‘fantastic’, 3.4 million UK workers suggested they have either ‘poor’ or a ‘terrible’ boss.

Saurav Chopra, CEO and co-founder at Perkbox, said: “This research indicates the scale of unhappiness in workers within UK businesses, and goes some way into revealing some of the causes of the nation’s general productivity issues. A single disengaged worker, irrespective of sector, can cost a business over £3K annually in sick leave, lost productivity, training and recruitment. This cost spirals into six figures if the organisation employs over a 1,000 people.

“Investment in employee health, well-being and engagement via perks and benefits is often perceived as a costly, non-critical ‘nice-to-have’ rather than an intrinsic tool for incentivising, retaining and recruiting talent. Yet most research already in the public domain indicates that while remuneration might instantly gratify and sway potential employees into accepting a job offer, it’s the non-financial factors that come with reward and recognition that engages and retains workers in the long run. Satisfied workers yield dividends in terms of engagement, loyalty and morale. Quite simply, happy teams accomplish great things.”

Perkbox is UK’s leading employee motivation and benefits platform. Learn more about Perkbox here.