Workplace Satisfaction in Numbers: Why Caring Jobs Perform Better

81 396: this is the average number of hours we spend working during our active years, preceded only by hours of sleep. With what and how, with what feelings do we spend this time? Are we anxious, nervous, or performing energetically and can't wait for the next morning to go back to work? It really does matter: both for the employer and the employee.

Connect Magazine examined a Gallup survey about how employees feel at their workplace.

One of the findings of the global research (Gallup State of Global Workforce) is that 60% of workers are now under almost constant stress, while 19% feel downright miserable.

While it is clear that a significant proportion of employees' responses to the pandemic included resignations, the right to a home office has become a basic expectation, and maintaining and even strengthening loyalty and motivation is becoming an increasing headache for company owners and management.

„Do I love my job?”

In the cartoon Monster Inc., there is a scene where, after an unfortunate mistake, a door leading to the children's room has to be demolished. When one of the colleagues hears the alarm, he and his colleague calmly go to the scene of the operation, muttering to himself, "I love my job...". His face, however, is not one of joy and a high work ethic, but of apathy and resignation.

And since the pandemic, there have also been "proud quitters", who admit publicly, even on social media platforms with greater reach, the conditions under which they worked "but now, no longer tolerating it, they are looking for a new job where they are better appreciated".

In its research study, Gallup recalls a well-known saying, presumably related to Confucius, that goes like this: "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life." And this sentiment is further reinforced by the career paths of popular and well-known people and successful entrepreneurs, saying

"I've never been tired of my job because I'm doing what I love, what I'm passionate about, so I feel lucky".

And the average worker is left alone with his bad feelings and anxieties, thinking that while others are happy with their jobs, he is just suffering, unable to find his path in life.

The term work is typically defined as mental or physical effort, i.e. having to suffer. Of course, concentration, attention, problem-solving, monotony and creativity all require a lot of energy, which in the long run can lead to stress and difficult decision-making situations. 

Obviously, long-term stress causes burnout, and this has been increasingly discussed since the early 2000s, with the emergence of the concept of wellbeing at work and the message of work-life balance.

Gallup's research points out that global data shows that a significant proportion of workers struggle with negative feelings related to work on a daily basis:

  • 40% worry about something,
  • 44% are under constant stress,
  • 21% are stressed,
  • 23% are "simply" sad.

It is not surprising that, also globally, engagement is found in only 21% of employees on average.

Highest levels are in the US and Canada (33%), lowest in Europe (14%).

ESG: new perspectives, new perceptions

The perception of a company can now be significantly influenced by its environmental and sustainability behaviour, its governance principles and practices, as well as the way it treats people and its culture of social interaction. This is ESG (environmental, social, governance), which is becoming an increasingly important decision criteria not only for customers, but also for employees applying for jobs.

According to Gallup, globally, around 2/3 of employees are satisfied with environmental actions, while only 10% do not experience respect and tolerance in the workplace. At the same time, 74% of workers encountered problems with corruption and corporate governance.

45% of workers feel they will soon be looking for a new job or are already actively looking for one, compared to 71% in the US and Canada, 44% in Europe and the lowest in East Asia at 27%.

Europeans don't feel engaged?

The research shows that while Europe has the lowest fear of corruption in the workplace compared to global figures and workers are generally not planning to move within the next year, it also has the lowest levels of engagement (14% compared to 21% globally).

Hungary is ranked 13th out of 38 European countries, with 21% of workers considered to be committed to their jobs, according to the survey. Romania tops the list, Italy comes last.

Finns (84%), Danes (78%) and Icelanders (77%) are the most satisfied with their lives, followed by Bulgaria (27%) and Cyprus (18%), with Hungary (42%) 22nd.

In terms of daily negative feelings, European workers show lower figures for worry, stress, anxiety and sadness.

Hungarians worry a lot, they stress, they get nervous and they are very sad. (Image: yanalya / Freepik)

Of the 38 countries, Hungary is

  • 34th in daily worry,
  • 31st in stress,
  • 27th in anxiety and
  • 37th in sadness (ahead of only Kosovo).

A lot depends on the leader

In its study, Gallup highlights the problems and solutions, and describes inconsistent workloads, inaccurate communication from leaders and a general lack of support from leaders as the biggest detriments.

The real solution, say Gallup's experts, is simple: better leaders in the workplace who are more attentive to employees' needs and problems, able to motivate them and empathetic to their needs. Great leaders help colleagues learn and grow, so that employees feel cared for.

For 79% of employees, this kind of working environment is more of a dream, while for only 21% it is a reality. 95% of people who are happy and energetic report being treated with respect on their working day, while 87% report smiling and laughing a lot.

A happy worker's performance is reflected in efficiency and effectiveness. According to Gallup data

business profits are 23% higher where employees are happy,

than where there is more sadness and lethargy. The former also have lower absenteeism, lower turnover and higher engagement.

Finally, the research firm stresses that employee satisfaction starts with being listened to. And of course you can't be there for every employee all the time, but that's what internal communication platforms are for. We need to communicate with each other: manager with subordinate, blue-collar worker with white-collar worker, because that's the only way to get to know each other.

« Back to Connect MagazineGo to Connect Conference »