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Workers protest unhappiness in the workplace

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Workers demonstrated in London yesterday (January 25) to protest widespread unhappiness in the UK workforce.

The crowd of workers, representing 11 different sectors, including healthcare, construction and real estate, held balloons in the shape of unhappy emojis to show their frustration at endemic unhappiness in the UK economy.

Just a quarter (27%) of UK workers feel happy at work most of the time, according to research by job listing site Indeed.

The turn of the new year typically sees the largest annual drop in happiness, as employees readjust to work after spending time with family and friends over Christmas, and they feel the effect of bad weather and illness.


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Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, professor of economics at Saïd Business School and director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University, said that happiness is critical to people’s wellbeing, and drives both productivity and success

He said: “Employers are well advised to get the emotional pulse of their organisation and have a frequent measure of workplace happiness.”

The three unhappiest sectors in the UK were real estate, management and consulting, and the automotive sector.

Education professionals were revealed as the happiest workers, followed by aerospace and defence, and then media and communications workers.

HR and staffing professionals ranked as the seventh-happiest sector.

Speaking to HR magazine, Mikaela Elliott, senior recruitment evangelist at Indeed, said that the pandemic had shone a light on employers' values and leadership, and not every company stepped up to the plate.

She said: "Nearly three quarters of workers have told us that they would seek happiness in their next job, and employee experience, from application process right through to onboarding and beyond, plays a big part in driving happiness."

While pay may be the highest reason people consider leaving their jobs (at 26%), the second largest is feeling unhappy at work (21%).

Two in five (19%) said they consider leaving their job because they don’t feel energised in their work tasks.

According to the research, feeling energised is the most important single factor in what makes someone happy at work, alongside feelings of belonging and purpose.

Between unhappiness at work and a lack of energy in their tasks, the proportion considering leaving their job because of poor employee experience makes up nearly half (45%) of UK workers.

Elliott added: "Getting it wrong, or not taking steps to improve it, risks losing workers, while at the same time failing to attract the best talent and with the jobs market as competitive as it's ever been, that is something employers can ill-afford."