Why do we work? Employees split between job salary and satisfaction

Ben TobinYouGov PR Manager
April 14, 2014, 2:48 PM GMT+0

As Britain continues to emerge from recession and with living standards still under pressure, UK workers are split evenly over what they believe is more important; satisfaction at work or the salary paid, a new YouGov International Omnibus study shows.

The research, which covered nearly 7,000 workers from eleven major European economies, shows that 50% of UK employees believe job salary to be most important, compared with the same proportion who prefer satisfaction at work. Age appears to be a factor on which side of the issue people are, six in ten (60%) of 18-24 year olds choosing satisfaction at work, compared with 54% of 25-34 year olds that pick salary.

The fragile recovery also seems to have shaped what people want out of a job in the UK. 74% say they value job security compared to career trajectory and professional advancement (26%). However, 18-24 year olds seem to be the most ambitious, with 51% favouring advancing their career - this compares to 90% of 55 and overs who prefer job security.

The study also assessed how British employees rate their work/life balance. Just fewer than half (49%) said their balance was ‘good’ or ‘very good’, over a third (35%) said it was ‘OK’ and 16% said it was ‘poor’ or ‘very ‘poor’. More than three in five (61%) of those that say they have a ‘very good’ work/life balance prefer satisfaction at work. However, of those who view their balance negatively, 53% said salary was more important.

David Eastbury, Associate Director of YouGov International Omnibus said; ‘’the issue of why people work has come into sharp focus in recent years. Workers in the UK, who in many cases have struggled to meet personal economic pressures, will be hoping that as the economy improves and business confidence is restored, wages will begin to rise and opportunities for career advancement will present themselves as companies look to expand.

‘’Those with a poor work / life balance will then hopefully have the chance to take on a more rewarding role which allows greater personal fulfilment and satisfaction at work.’’

“Employers should remember how vital it is to maintain a happy and motivated workforce, in order to boost both productivity and company morale. They need to avoid having employees who feel unhappy yet trapped in their career due to economic circumstances, with no prospect of professional advancement or a wage rise to compensate for long working hours.’’

YouGov’s international study found that there are different views across Europe, some countries believe salary is most important. The French place greater significance on salary (60%) as do the Spanish (55%) and Italians (57%). However, the opposite view is true in a number of other countries, particularly the Nordic nations. The Danes (73%), Fins (69%), Norwegians (69%) and Swedes (70%) all pick job satisfaction over salary.

Workers in mainland Europe, including Italy (74%) Germany (70%) and France (69%) mirror the UK in choosing job security as more important than career advancement and this is a belief that is shared across the whole of the study, with all other European countries in agreement.

Image : Thinkstock

See UK results

See European results

Go to International Omnibus site