International Happiness Day survey reveals stressed workers

March 20 has been chosen as ‘International Day of Happiness’, but a survey of UK employees finds that more than one in three are unhappy at work.

Global HR consultancy Lee Hecht Harrison Penna commissioned market researcher Opinium to poll 2,000 workers in full-time employment and aged 18 or over to gauge employee satisfaction. The firm found 36% of those polled view work in negative terms, 14% associate it with being unhappy, while 9% would go as far to describe their work as simply “horrible”.

Anxiety was found to be a common cause of employee upset, with 20% claiming their work caused them stress and angst. It appears to be a greater problem among women, with 25% describing their work as anxiety inducing, compared to just 16% of men.

Despite workers in London are less likely to switch off in their free time, with 68% checking work emails in the evening or weekends, the UK capital is home to the happiest employees with just 31% describing work negatively. The country’s unhappiest workforce can be found in the South West where 42% struggle to find any positives.

“With our working life and private life becoming increasingly integrated, negativity and unhappiness at work can easily spill over and become all consuming,” said Nick Goldberg, chief executive officer (CEO) UK & Ireland of LHH Penna. “While it is encouraging to see that 38% of employees have only positive things to say about work, our research also shows that more needs to be done by both the employee and employer to improve workplace happiness.

“Today marks a good day for employees to ask themselves if they are truly happy at work, and if not ask themselves why and what steps they can take to address it.”

Goldberg offers the following tips on how to be happier at work:

  • Prioritise your personal life:Make sure you have other activities in your life beside work to help detract from any negativity. After work and on the weekends, make sure you switch off both mentally and physically and spend time doing the things you love most.
  • Take initiative:If you’re finding work repetitive and boring, proactively seek out opportunities for work to become more diverse, whether that’s asking for a secondment in another division, taking on new responsibilities or volunteering yourself for training. Your employer will also commend you for being so proactive.
  • Be honest:If you’re committed to making a change, then find a time to sit down and chat to someone senior about the cause of your grievances. The likelihood is that they will want to do all within their powers to help make work a happier place for you.
  • Change can be good: If you are unhappy at work then take matters into your own hands. While changing your career or job may seem like a daunting prospect, it could be the major change you need to be truly happy again at work.
  • Start to socialise: We spend the majority of our lives within the office, therefore building strong relationships with your colleagues can help to add comic relief or serve as a support system when you’re having a difficult day.



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