Unhappy at work? US employees officially happier at work than UK as revealed by Jobbio Happiness Index

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The festive fun of Christmas is a distant memory, we’re all feeling the pinch – on both our bank balances and our waistlines – and the gloomy weather is perfectly matching the mood of the nation, or at least for the Brits returning to work. New research announced today by Jobbio, has found that less than a quarter of adults in the UK (23%) say they are always happy in their current job.

Perhaps this is the effect of the January blues following Brits in to the workplace, as the Happiness Index*, created by Jobbio, the leading careers marketplace, revealed that for employed adults over in the US almost a third (32%) say they are always happy at their current job, even though the research found that the US workforce work longer hours and have less holiday than UK employees. So what can improve the levels of happiness in our jobs? For both sides of the pond, employees are seeking a better work life balance, with 61% of Brits noting this a key component for a good employer, and over half (59%) in the US agree.

However, a healthy work life balance is not the only factor we seek improvement on from employers. Over half of Brits look for a competitive salary (56%) compared to 46% of American talent. Flexible working hours are important to nearly half (47%) of UK workers, and 39% of US employees. Whilst 53% think praise and rewards make a good employer, in comparison to just 44% of those in the US.

Stephen Quinn, CEO of Jobbio said: “Our Happiness Index shows a clear disparity between the US and UK pool of talent. It seems illogical that US employees are so much happier than UK workforce given they work longer hours and have shorter holidays. What is also intriguing is that even though US talent have less holiday, they use up less of their allowance too, whilst not being as concerned about their work-life balance when compared to UK talent. Perhaps the UK workforce is less happy than the US as they travel further to get to work and often commutes are disrupted by delays and overcrowding. Few people enjoy a January commute in cold weather when your train is delayed and you can’t get a seat.

Although, it seems there are a number of factors making Brits blue at work. Over a third of Brits (36%) spend 45 minutes or more commuting, compared to 41% of US employees who spend just 15minutes or less on their commute. Furthermore, sadly for more than one in ten Brits, they spend at least an hour travelling to work. It doesn’t get better once we’re in the office either, as over a quarter (28%) confessed to meetings being the biggest waste of their time at work, and nearly a fifth would prefer not to even chat with colleagues, as 17% found the interaction a waste of their time.

It’s not just a lack of work perks that set Brits apart from those in the US, as it seems we’re a nation of uncertainty, as over two fifths (41%) think their job will be obsolete in 10 years’ time, compared to 37% in America, thanks to the prevalence of technology. In particular, both US workers and Brits think roles such as travel agents, telemarketers and factory workers will all become obsolete, with more than a quarter** of each population in agreement.

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Stephen Quinn, CEO of Jobbio continued: “It’s interesting to learn how much we think the rise of technology will influence our careers in the future and by how much, as well as what it is that brings us down when at work. With so many Brits thinking they will retire later in life, it’s important to be in a job and a company that is enjoyable and fulfilling.

The future doesn’t look a lot better as we age either. Over two fifth of Brits (41%) think that we won’t retire until the ages of 70-74 in 2050, whereas the US are more optimistic with over a third (36%) thinking they will retire younger than the age of 65.


*Jobbio commissioned the research to create a Happiness Index, exploring happiness at work and attitude towards the future of work among over 2,000 employed adults across the UK and 2,000 employed adults in the US.

**Travel agent – UK 30%, US 29% / Telemarketers – UK 27%, US 31% / Factory workers – UK 27%, US 28%

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