Telling the truth about SME life today

Job satisfaction: A staff happiness breakdown by industry, country and company size

Job satisfaction


The Netherlands is home to the happiest workers in the world, the study found, as a majority of 56 per cent confessed love for their jobs. That outstripped France and the US, which has 47 per cent and 45 per cent of workers respectively declaring love of their roles. Meanwhile, 58 per cent of those in the UK said no to holding their jobs in such high regard, though Spain was the most dissatisfied as 70 per cent said no.


The feelings of the Spanish were linked to the current economic situation that has pushed many graduates into low-paid careers, creating resent. Elsewhere, the low level of job satisfaction in the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong were attributed to the intense working practices in the countries.

The top 20 UK towns for work in 2016


Perhaps unsurprisingly, those who have worked the least time are more likely to be in love with their job, something Emolument referred to as the honeymoon period. Some 49 per cent of those who had been working up to two years said they love their job, which dropped to 44 per cent for those in work for three to five years.

Interestingly, that number fell even further to 38 per cent satisfaction for five to ten years, suggesting that’s the time the seven-year itch feeling will kick in, leaving workers questioning their next move.


Company size

When it comes to size, our SME readers will be pleased to know they?re doing something right. Employees in companies with under 250 people were the most satisfied, while happiness decreases as the business grows in size.

Indeed, micro businesses with under ten staff members have a 63 per cent approval level, which fell to 52 per cent in companies with ten to 50 staff and 48 per cent with medium-sized companies with 50-250 workers. Job satisfaction at large public firms, meanwhile, fell to 40 per cent.


According to Emolument, this is down to the flexibility of small companies and opportunities for personal growth, while red tape can be problematic in larger corporate companies.

?Happiness at work is in no way correlated to absolute pay levels. The happiest employees are either very junior, in support functions, or working for small businesses, not necessarily where clich’s would have us believe happiness lies, i.e., high-flying corporate careers,” said Alice Leguay, co-founder & COO at

Image: Shutterstock



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