Most People Are Actually Pretty Happy at Work

Indians and Japanese are extreme cases, according to a new survey.

Everyone knows about the Monday back-to-work blues—it is common knowledge that working is, for most people, miserable. Except that might not be true: employees are alright, according to the Endred-Ipsos 2016 Barometer, a yearly survey of well-being at work.

The survey looked at 14,400 people in 15 countries across different regions of the world, and found that 71% of them answered positively to a set of questions meant to evaluate their well-being at work, measured as a combination of the work environment, the level of appreciation they felt, and the emotional fulfillment they found in their job.

The happiest—or the ones least likely to complain—are Indian employees, who will in 88% of cases report positive feelings about their work experience. Countries in the Americas follow, then Germany and the UK. France and southern European countries are below average. At the bottom of the scale are the Japanese, who are flat-out miserable at work: only 44% of them have nice things to say about their jobs.

The survey found that, depending on the culture, the combination of work environment, appreciation, and emotional fulfillment required by workers changed (pdf, p.14). In Japan, Turkey, China, Italy, and Poland, employees most valued a good work environment. In India, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile people wanted emotional fulfillment from their jobs. In Belgium, France, and Germany workers value appreciation more.

Employees were also asked to rank specific management policies—from flexibility of working hours to diversity, to health at work—and highlight the ones that mattered the most. While they favored good end-of-career policies and digital integration, 68% employees found managing the transmission and renewal of skills (pdf, p.19) to be the most important workplace policy.