1. Business
November 14, 2018

One in three employees are unhappy at work — here’s why

By Priya Kantaria

In a recent study on the impact of mental health in the workplace, a third of workers in the United Kingdom, equating to more than 10m people, described themselves as unhappy in their current role and believe that they are coasting it.

In spite of this dismal number, a slightly higher percentage were found to be happy at work, and two-thirds of coasters are generally happy with their lives.

The statistic comes as the UK tries to solve its productivity crisis, which has seen output slow more than any other leading Western economy since the last financial crash.

Coasters are four times as likely to leave their job

Consultancy firm Barnett Waddingham found that coasters are four times as likely to leave their job in the next 12 months than those who are flourishing.

According to Oxford Economics, each person who leaves their job costs their employer £30,000.

Happiness also influences productivity. One study found that happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy ones.

According to Barnett Waddingham’s Why BWell report, there are two types of coasters: those who make a conscious decision to do so, and those where it comes down to something not working with the employer or job role.

A key cause of coasters’ unhappiness is lacking a sense of purpose.

Less than half who coast say their job is meaningful and that they add value, and only two in five believe their employer makes the best use of their skills.

Another contributing factor to unhappiness is the perception of how much effort employers make with their employees.

Mental health in the workplace finally receives due attention

Laura Matthews, a workplace wellbeing consultant at Barnett Waddingham, said:

“Mental health is beginning to get some of the attention it deserves in workplaces and thankfully, more employers are now looking out for the signs of issues such as stress and anxiety.

“This is great progress, but as part of the same conversation, employers should be thinking more broadly about employee happiness and the positive impact this can have on all areas of the business, from productivity and innovation to profitability and corporate reputation.

“A third of our workforce is coasting at the moment, applying just enough effort to get by and go home at the end of the day.

“Our research shows that these are not lazy or unambitious people, but often those lacking purpose or confidence in their ability to add value.

“Mobilising this group to start excelling at work is worth a huge amount to UK companies.”