One in four Brits say work makes them unhappy

unhappy worker

According to new research, a worrying 10 per cent of workers report not having even one good day at work each week and only five per cent rate work-life balance as an important factor for a good day at work.  

Whilst the research — which surveyed 1,500 UK adults in the private and public sector — highlighted room for improvement, there are positive indications that changes are in progress. Two thirds of employees reported feeling empowered to talk about wellbeing, and importantly more than half of people said that work makes them happy. 

One in three people surveyed worked in banking, and the results provide an in-depth insight into one of the UK’s most important and fast-changing sectors.

The research also found that workers are also out of touch with what makes a good day at work. People did not see ‘non-task’ factors, such as work-life balance, as an influence on their day. Only one per cent said that getting fresh air during the day, and making time for lunch, was important. 

Psychologist and Head of Client Experience at Robertson Cooper, Paula Brockwell, explains: “The survey data enabled us to identify correlations between influencers, such as technology, management style, workplace relationships and conversations, and their impact on people’s physical and emotional energy levels. Our research showed that your energy levels — both physical and emotional — were the biggest contributors to whether or not you were having a good day at work.” 

Physical and emotional energy levels were influenced by a number of factors — including technology. Fifty per cent of bank workers reported that technology makes them angry or slows them down at work, compared to 37 per cent of workers in other sectors.

Management styles impacted heavily on happiness levels: those who weren’t happy at work stated they had a results-focused manager and 42 per cent reported not having an accessible manager. In turn, people who have more good days at work were more likely to feel supported and talk about how they were feeling. 

Paul Barrett, Head of Wellbeing at the Bank Workers Charity, said: “Just as in the wider population, the research presents a mixed picture among bank workers. At BWC we’d like to see line managers in banks display more people-focused behaviours at work, to balance the task-centred management style identified in the report. On the other hand, we welcome the fact that bank workers appear to have a strong sense of purpose in their work and enjoy high-quality relationships with their colleagues, both of which are highly beneficial to their wellbeing.”

Paula Brockwell added: “Work is no longer about just getting the job done and we need to ask ourselves more often, ‘did I have a good day at work’? It’s a simple question — but it’s linked to a broad concept of employee wellbeing, including physical and emotional energy, health, sustainable job satisfaction and performance.

“What we need organisations to understand is that employee wellbeing is intrinsically linked to business priorities. Business goals cannot be met if people are not happy, healthy and thriving.”