Over 50 Percent Of UK Employees Choose Job Happiness Over Pay Cheque Size

A new report released today offers new insights on what REALLY makes employees happy in a rapidly changing, digital workplace.

Wrike, the collaborative work management platform for high-performance teams, has today released its report “From Positivity to Productivity: Exposing the Truth Behind Workplace Happiness.”

The report debunks common myths and finds that levels of happiness are generally high at work, but not always for the expected reasons. The happiest employees – those that identify as being “elated” with their job – report diversity is above average in their workplace and say “doing meaningful work” is the most critical factor in their happiness, ranking even higher than compensation.

To create the report, Wrike surveyed 1,000 workers each in the United Kingdom, United States, France, and Germany on questions related to culture, compensation, and collaboration. The findings indicate that the happiest workers enjoy their teams, but also value balance between time spent at work and home, and their employers put technology in place that helps achieve this balance.

Here’s some of the key insights:

  • In the UK, the happiest employees rank “office location” as the second most crucial factor in their happiness at work, after ‘doing meaningful work’.
  • 58% of US respondents and 54 % of UK respondents have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier.
  • Just 32 percent of French and 29 percent of Germans employees have done the same.
  • Nearly a fifth (19 percent) of UK adults are unhappy in their job.
  • When it comes to general job happiness, 71 percent of Americans are mostly happy, compared to 70 percent of Germans, 65 percent of employees in the UK, and 54 percent of the French.
  • Globally, more men (50 percent) than women (37 percent) have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier.
  • Globally, more than one-quarter (28 percent) said the most important perk, related to happiness at work, is more or unlimited paid holiday time.

“The nature of work is changing, and with it, employers must also evolve their strategies for building happy and engaged workforces,” said Wrike Vice President of People Operations Megan Barbier. “It’s time to update our assumptions on what drives happiness so that businesses can truly invest in what matters most to their employees. That requires building an environment where teams can collaborate effectively, regardless of location, to complete work that has meaning and resonates with their values.”

The report finds that happiness and productivity are heavily linked, with 91 percent of elated employees saying they are “very productive” at work. It also found that employees are willing to take drastic action for happiness, with four in 10 respondents globally saying they have taken a pay cut to accept a position that made them happier.

Portia Hickey, chartered business psychologist says:

“One especially striking finding from Wrike’s Happiness Index is that over half (54 percent) of UK full-time employees have taken a pay cut to accept a job that made them happier. This should serve as a wakeup call for employers – if your staff aren’t happy, they will consider going elsewhere, no matter how much you pay them.”

Hickey continues: “According to the Wrike Happiness Index, the UK workforce ranks ‘doing meaningful work’ as the most important factor that affects their happiness at work. In my experience, organisations often don’t have the language to communicate the purpose of the company, or how each role feeds into the wider business goals. If companies want their staff to be happy, they need to find the words to articulate the purpose of the company and the role that everyone plays in achieving the wider business goals.”

The report also finds key differentiating points between respondents in different countries. Among these differences:

  • 56%  of the happiest workforce, Americans, said their company’s mission and vision strongly resonates with them, while only 36% of UK respondents said the same.
  • The leading type of workspace in the US is a private office, with 30 percent of employees working in one. Despite the U.S. inventing the open floor plan in the early 1900s and saw it resurge in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s, the UK currently leads the pack in killing the cubicle. Just four percent of UK employees report working in cubicles, while 41 percent work in open floor plan offices – also leading in that workspace.
  • US employees view the impact of technology in the workplace more positively. Users of CWM software in the US were 2.5 times more likely than non-users to say they “love” collaborating with their remote team members and that technology makes it easy.
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