66% Of The British Workforce Enjoys Their Job, What’s Going Wrong For The Remaining 34%?

Tue, 24 Sep 2019 by Liz Rosling

Monday Blues? Not in the UK. Two thirds of the British workforce enjoys their job. That’s according to the findings of a study commissioned by SME Loans earlier this year.

The survey aimed to find out more about Britain’s workforce, uncovering the things that motivate employees, create job satisfaction and encourage employee retention.

• 34% of the UK workforce is unhappy in their current job

• 45 – 54 year olds least motivated in their careers

• Wales, the North West and London are the regions with the lowest job satisfaction


Job Satisfaction Statistics For The UK

Employee satisfaction is integral to business – when people are happy in their jobs, organisations thrive. Businesses are benefiting from over 21.2 million employed Brits enjoying their place of work – our data revealed that 66% of the workforce went into 2019 enjoying their job, what’s more, 62% enjoyed their job and felt confident that they were good at it.


When looking specifically at different age groups, we noted disparity between the older generations and younger generations in terms of workplace happiness. While we can identify some of the reasons why this is the case, current trends cause concern for the future generations as to how satisfied they will be in their jobs.

• The over 55s had the highest job satisfaction – 73% enjoy their jobs

• Gen X had the lowest levels of job satisfaction – just 61% are happy at work

The data was relatively even between genders, showing that 66.3% of males enjoyed their place of work compared to 65.4% of women.

Regionally the data showed more diversity, and some regions had far higher levels of job satisfaction than others:

Regions with Highest Percentages:

• South East – 75.2%

• Northern Ireland – 71.9%

• South West – 70.5

Regions with Lowest Percentages:

• Wales – 54.3%

• North West – 60.3%

• London – 62%

What Factors Motivate Job Satisfaction? It’s Not All About Money…


• ½ of the UK workforce view salary as their biggest job motivator

• Second to salary, flexible working, having a nice boss and a short commute cited as top 3 motivators

• Majority of people are more concerned with having a boss they like than a boss who’s more knowledgeable than them

To understand what causes and results in job enjoyment and satisfaction, our participants were asked to rank several influences from 1 to 5 by importance.

The data showed that salary is the most important motivator for 49.7% of the UK workforce, most true for Gen Z (18 – 24 year olds) at 59.2%.

Despite salary proving important across all regions, the region placing the greatest emphasis on this was London, the most expensive city to live and work in the UK. Over half of London’s workforce (55%) is most motivated by their pay compared to just 39% in the South West.

Unexpectedly, promotion prospects proved 25% less important than current salary, arguably evidencing the opinion that we are the now generation. The region that cares most about their prospects for development and promotion is London, where 1 in 3 cite this as their most important workplace motivator.

When comparing trends between genders, we found that women care far more than men about having a boss that they like, and working in a company with similar values to their own.

Company values proved to be important to roughly 1 in 5 across all regions, and in the North West (a region with one of the lowest levels of job satisfaction) 29% regard this as their greatest motivator.

Perhaps unexpectedly, a generous maternity/paternity leave offer proved not as popular as other motivating factors. Just 7.5% of people from the South West valued this. The region most attracted to parental leave was London at 21.7%.

Most regions placed more importance on having a boss they liked than having a boss who was more knowledgeable than them – only 15% of employees in Wales cared about their boss’s knowledge compared to 34% who were motivated by getting on with their boss.

More and more people are beginning to value the ability to:

• Work flexibly;

• Work from home;

• Work remotely

Overall, working flexible hours was the second most popular motivator appealing to 1 in 3 participants. This was closely followed by the option to work remotely and work from home, enticing 1 in 5.

Google Search Results For Job Dissatisfaction


We were able to find out the most popular search queries Google receives annually relating to a lack of satisfaction in the workplace. It was startling to see the number of people turning to the internet with the following concerns:

Search Term UK Search Volume Global Search Volume
I hate my job 4,000 25,000
Hate my job 1,600 5,900
Should I quit my job 1,100 7,100
Should I leave my job 500 1,400
Reasons for leaving a job 3,200 2,900
Reasons to leave a job 300 3,500

Employee Experiences



With  of the British workforce not enjoying their jobs, we spoke to employees across the country to find out what both motivates them and demotivates them in the workplace. Here’s what they had to say:


*The first person we spoke to preferred to remain anonymous, she will be referred to as Case Study 1:

Case Study 1 previously worked in a job she grew to hate. The Arts & Leisure trust she worked at was the ‘most toxic workplace [she’d] ever experienced’. Demotivating factors that led to her quitting the job were:

• There was no plan or strategy, managers said yes to everything, which meant their workload was uncontrollable, with no support in managing it

• No agenda for team meetings, which always went on for at least 90 minutes. Senior managers would arrive late and do work on their laptops or be on their phones throughout

• Despite having a ‘flexible working policy’ it quickly became clear that only worked for senior members of staff, juniors were expected to be on call whenever needed. It was common to receive emails at 4am

• Colleagues weren’t made aware when people were starting or leaving, let alone taking the time to introduce and properly induct them

• Case Study 1 suffers from a chronic illness which sometimes affects her ability to get to work. Working from home on average 1-5 days a month meant she could keep working, but when her director put a stop to working from home, she had to take time off sick, which meant she ended up going through a disciplinary process. In the end, she requested to see Occupational Health, who informed her employers that they were breaching the equalities act

Case Study 1 now works for a company that is completely different and she loves it. Motivating factors include:

• Structure and departmental KPIs, there are regular reviews which are supportive and empowering as opposed to belittling. Achievements are celebrated and senior managers take the time to ask for feedback and ideas for improvement

• Casey Study 1 feels satisfied when completing, analysing and reporting on tasks and campaigns

• Feedback is a two-way street and is valued

• The induction process was fantastic, Case Study 1 received relevant training and support and was introduced properly to everyone in the office on starting

• Flexible working and working from home is part of the culture of her new company. Interestingly, her health has largely improved since starting her new role

• Despite being open plan, the culture in the office is lovely and people respect each other. It feels like a community of people wanting to do their best, and they are encouraged by an incredibly strong leadership team


Buzz Carter – Bulldog Digital Media

Buzz works at a digital marketing agency based in Essex. When Buzz first started there were 6 employees, now there are 25 people working in the office. Having watched the company grow, he has developed close relationships with a lot of his colleagues, so they’re all on the same page and know what they’re working towards.

‘Being in a creative environment is great for my motivation, I’m not micromanaged and I can set my own times for doing tasks, catering my workload to how I feel I work best. Not having someone over my shoulder is a great feeling & I know that the management team trusts me to do good work, which in turn motivates me to justify their trust.’

Monisha Gohil – Datadial

Monisha works at Datadial, where the company’s services include web design, e-commerce, web development, digital PR, SEO, and email marketing, so she enjoys working with people with a range of talents.

‘We are expected to effectively manage our time ourselves, which I prefer as a junior as I am given more responsibility than I would’ve had at another job. Staff are also able to work flexibly meaning I can make more of my evenings and down time if I wake up one or two hours earlier. Aside from doing genuinely interesting work that I am passionate about, I guess the biggest motivator to come into work is the people. It is a very diverse and inclusive office and although I am the youngest, I am given responsibility and treated like the adult that I am. I am never left out of ‘office banter’ and I am never made to feel stupid for asking a question.


The enthusiasm of the staff shows not only through the fact that we’re all good friends, but through the work that we provide to our clients. Owner of Ash Barton Estate and our client, Simon Daukes, commented ‘when I asked one client where they found us his reply was “where didn’t we find you”. So as a team you are already achieving a lot’ which I think says it all!’

Why Motivation Matters In The Workplace:


We can presume that a lack of these motivators in the workplace is having an impact on the remaining 10.9 million employees across Britain that don’t enjoy their jobs. Demotivated employees can have huge negative consequences for businesses, resulting in less overall productivity and apathy for the job at hand.

Analysis of workplace motivators can help business owners, company directors and individuals in positions of management to improve their business’s employee satisfaction, thus increasing work capacity, output and retention.

Research Methodology


In order to gain greater insight into job satisfaction across the UK, we worked with an accredited market research company to poll a diverse sample of the British workforce.

3GEM Research helped us achieve the poll. We used 3GEM because their team is made up of MRS and ESOMAR accredited employees. ESOMAR sets the globally recognised standards for information collection in a market research capacity.

Its guidelines ensure (amongst other things):

• The data of participants is protected

• Participants are aware of how their data is used

MRS is a similar body that advocates:

• Fair and unbiased questioning

All of the above ensure that we have data obtained through a research company compliant with data protection regulation and best practice.

2,000 employed participants took part in our survey. The surveyed participants fell into five age groups:

• 18 to 24

• 25 to 34

• 35 to 44

• 45 to 54

• 55+

They were from 12 first level regions within the UK:

• London

• South East

• South West

• West Midlands

• North West

• North East

• Yorkshire

• East Midlands

• East England

• Scotland

• Northern Ireland

• Wales

All participants were employed (as opposed to self employed, retired or unemployed) and of a relatively even split between men and women. Once we were confident we had the right panel and research provider, we set about ensuring that questions asked to the participants were clear, concise and unbiased in order to fully understand the motivations of the British workforce.

Raw Data

The data obtained from the survey is available on request. Please email liz.rosling@smeloans.co.uk if you would like a copy.

About Liz Rosling

Liz is a business finance specialist, responsible for publishing relevant industry insight for SME Loans. Also an author at StartUp Mindset, Liz uses her years of experience in the financial services sector, to equip small business owners with the guidance and expertise they need to realise their full potential. Stay up to date with Liz through LinkedIn and Twitter. You can drop her an email at liz.rosling@dojono.com.

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