"People enjoy their jobs"


In 2001, the UK government announced plans for a "work first" culture. Ministers spoke of how work "holds communities together" and "gives life meaning". The media lapped it up.

Meanwhile, back in the real world...

• In 2002, the Work Foundation reported that "job satisfaction has plummeted", and that so-called "high performance" management techniques made workers deeply unhappy and failed to raise output.

• In January 2004, a marketing director at Prudential was reported as saying: "Our research shows that an alarming number of people appear to be unhappy in their employment and unfulfilled by their work".

• A British Social Attitudes survey revealed that 6 in 10 British workers are unhappy in their jobs, with a majority reporting feelings of insecurity, stress, pointlessness, exhaustion and inadequate income.

• A Samaritans survey found that jobs are the single biggest cause of stress – and that the link between work and suicide is likely to be underestimated. In Japan, around 5% of all suicides are "company related" and suicide is an official, compensated work-related condition.

• In a pathetic attempt to raise worker morale, employers are giving high-sounding titles to mundane jobs. The recruitment company, Reed, noticed these examples:

Technical Sanitation Assistant (toilet cleaner)
Optical Illuminator Enhancer (window cleaner)
Head of Verbal Communications (receptionist)
Senior Corporate Events Manager (secretary)

• A 2003 University of Cambridge study showed that more than 1 in 4 British adults (aged 30-59) choose lower paid jobs, or "downshifting", in order to have more free time.

Sources: Work Foundation, April 2002; Christian Science Monitor, 12 Jan 2004; BSA survey; The Samaritans 'Stressed Out', May 2003; Hazards magazine factsheet 83, 2003; The Japan Times, 10 May 2003; Study by Reed, March 2002; University of Cambridge, 1/12/03 http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2003112602