British workers would take a 10% pay cut to be happier, new study reveals

·2-min read
Unhappy at work? You’re not alone (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Unhappy at work? You’re not alone (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The typical UK worker would accept a 10 per cent pay cut to work where staff enjoy “above average” levels of happiness, a new study reveals.

The research, which analysed 23m job-seekers across the UK, US and Canada, concluded that companies should “invest in organisational and management practices that are conducive to worker happiness”.

George Ward, an academic at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), examined how job-seekers using the Indeed recruitment website excluded companies based on their “work happiness score”, an assessment tool introduced by the company which asked workers if they “feel happy at work most of the time”.

The results were displayed on job adverts at participating firms for 10 months.

According to Ward, UK job-seekers said they were prepared to exchange a 10.5 per cent cut to pay to work at a company with an above average happiness score of 75 out of 100, rather than the average score of 65.

For workers on the average UK income of £32,000, this equates to £3,360 per year.

He also found that younger people exhibited a preference for happier workplaces, while richer job-seekers were willing to take bigger pay cuts to work in a happier workplace.

In order of priority, a work-life balance, “team” and social relationships, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose were all agreed by workers to constitute a happy workplace.

While pay and benefits were important, they were not cited as the most important factors for workers.

Ward presented his findings at an Oxford University wellbeing conference on Thursday.

“Executives say happiness is hugely important but when you ask them if they do anything, it is only about 25 per cent that are doing anything,” he said.

“This is tangible evidence they have incentives to improve the happiness of their workforce.”

The research follows the news that more than a third of UK workers are unhappy in their jobs.

The UK’s largest study of workplace happiness found that 36 per cent of people were unhappy in their roles in January this year.

People working in real estate, management, consulting and the automotive industry were found to be the unhappiest in their jobs, while education came top for happiness, with workers reporting a sense of purpose in their role.

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