Happiness levels in the workplace have increased

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According to a recent report from the Government, the general level of satisfaction in the UK’s workplaces has significantly increased despite the economic downturn.

The extensive study of more than 21,000 employees found that job satisfaction levels rose in 2012 with 20% of respondents either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with all aspects of their job, in comparison to 16% when the survey was last produced in 2004.

Research for the report, ‘The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study’ (WERS), was carried out between spring 2011 and summer 2012, and more details on the study’s findings will be released in November 2013 in a report called ‘Employment Relations in the Shadow of Recession: Findings from the 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study.’

The study also suggested that the level of commitment to individual employers has increased since 2004, with 65% of employees claiming they share the values of the organisation they work for, which is up from 55%.

Managers are also communicating more with employees, the study found. They are now more likely to hold team briefings to keep staff informed with more information on workplace finances.

It also discovered that the proportion of employees with high levels of independence increased between 2004 and 2011. The most common areas of discretion are how employees do their job (52%) and the order in which they carry out tasks (51%).

Another key finding from the study was that the percentage of high training workplaces (where at least 80% of experienced employees had some off-the-job training) rose from 35% to 41%.

Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson, announced the report’s findings:

“We are going through one of the most challenging periods in our economic history and businesses and employees have had to adapt rapidly in order to deal with the many pressures that it brings.

“This important study gives us a valuable insight into what is going on inside the workplace. I am very pleased to see that job satisfaction levels have increased and that more employees report that they share the values of the organisation.”

Swinson added:

“Engagement of employees is key to building stronger workforces which will in turn drive economic growth. The results of the study show us in a new light just how workers and businesses are affected, how they are changing and what the workplace of the future might look like. We will be using these findings to help develop future Government thinking and practice, and to stimulate future debate.”

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  1. While I’m really pleased if people are happier at work, I’m staggered if they are. And some of these findings – like much research – requires some further questions. Alternative interpretations might be:
    – people are happy to HAVE a job, rather than being ecstatic about the job itself
    – people are therefore clinging on to their employer
    – and given the amount of redundancies and that there are – particularly in the public sector – fewer people around, it would be hardly surprising if people weren’t given more responsibility

    That communication and training in the workplace appears to have increased is a positive sign – but I’d hate for the Government to take these findings as an indication that you can indeed ask people to do much, much more, with and for, much less and be happy!

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