From the TUC

Are we more positive or negative about our jobs?

14 Nov 2014, by in Working Life

Yesterday I introduced a new YouGov poll commissioned by the TUC that asked those in work about their job. It showed that most of us have aspects of our job that we like and parts that we do not. But how do these balance out? How many of us are mainly negative and how many mainly positive?

We asked YouGov to crunch the detailed numbers to put respondents with similar answers into groups. YouGov used techniques called principal component and cluster analysis to identify five sub-samples, though the subsequent analysis has been done by the TUC. In our report Work in Britain 2014 we describe these groups in detail. This post provides an overview.

As the chart shows, two of the groups are made up of people whose strongest views about their job are positive, while three have negative feelings that are stronger. 

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It should be stressed that this is not telling us that 16 per cent of people at work say they are underpaid. (the figure is in fact higher). Rather, it tells us that for this group their strongest feeling about their work is that they are underpaid.

Similarly, more than 20 per cent have concerns about their workload, but for 20 per cent feeling overworked is their strongest attitude to their job.

Take for example health workers. This is a group that tends to say they are both overworked and underpaid but have worthwhile and fulfilling jobs. By looking at how each worker answered all the questions in the survey this grouping process will look at which of these three attitudes to their job  is the strongest. Consequently, there will be significant numbers of health workers in the overworked, underpaid and ‘happy about their job’ group.

It is worrying that more people are in groups with negative feelings (59 per cent) than positive feelings (41 per cent).

This poll generated a huge amount of data. To simplify the way that we present it here and in the report, we have generated a net measure for most questions. Many of the questions have a five point scale of possible responses. Respondents were given a statement and asked whether they strongly agreed, tended to agree, neither agree nor disagree, tend to disagree or strongly disagreed.

To generate a net measure we add up those who either strongly or tend to agree and subtract from that the sum of those tending to or strongly disagreeing.  A positive measure therefore shows that more people agree than disagree, and a negative measure shows that more people disagree than agree.  

Let us now look at how groups within the workforce differ in their attitudes and in which of the five attitude groups their members end up.

Gender

Here are net measures for some key questions broken down by gender. 

 

Male

Female

net look forward to going to work

-7%

-8%

net on a career path

12%

3%

net job interesting and enjoyable

38%

49%

net regular opportunities for training and skills

9%

11%

net real say in my work

13%

8%

net consulted and involved

-5%

-11%

net worried I might lose my job in the next 12 months

-21%

-26%

net worried about worse conditions

-8%

-4%

net recently anxious or worried

22%

26%

workplaces with preferential treatment

48%

51%

workplaces with bullying or harassment

37%

41%

net never have enough time

11%

18%

net amount of work has increased

52%

52%

workplaces with not being paid a fair rate

37%

41%

net paid fairly

10%

5%

net good benefits

11%

1%

net employer could pay more

38%

29%

On some issues women are more positive than men – interesting and enjoyable work and job security for example. On others -such as pay – men are more positive. These differences are likely to be down to the different  types of job that men and women tend to do. Women disproportionately work part-time jobs and are more likely to work in the public sector. Both are likely to be associated with complaints about pay, but also likely to be jobs that are more fulfilling. 

 This is confirmed by how mean and women divide between the five attitude groups as the chart and table show.

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happy about job

happy about pay

underpaid

insecure

overworked

Men

20%

21%

16%

23%

20%

Women

24%

17%

17%

23%

20%

Age

The net attitudes broken down by age that are shown in the table set out how opportunities for training decline with age, and that younger workers are significantly more likely to think that management consults the workforce.

 

18-24

25-34

35-44

45-54

55+

net look forward to going to work

-9%

-12%

-16%

-7%

11%

net on a career path

8%

20%

10%

7%

-16%

net job interesting and enjoyable

40%

47%

42%

39%

49%

net regular opportunities for training and skills

30%

13%

14%

3%

-2%

net real say in my work

24%

27%

19%

19%

8%

net consulted and involved

5%

14%

17%

7%

6%

net worried I might lose my job in the next 12 months

24%

0%

-8%

-21%

-15%

net worried about worse conditions

-32%

-24%

-16%

-25%

-28%

net recently anxious or worried

-14%

-2%

-3%

-4%

-14%

workplaces with preferential treatment

37%

53%

50%

53%

44%

workplaces with bullying or harassment

24%

37%

41%

45%

38%

net never have enough time

-36%

-9%

-1%

4%

-15%

net amount of work has increased

8%

21%

20%

16%

0%

workplaces with not being paid a fair rate

39%

37%

38%

35%

33%

net paid fairly

-5%

-4%

-5%

-15%

-21%

net good benefits

5%

7%

16%

1%

7%

net employer could pay more

13%

14%

10%

2%

-8%

net look forward to going to work

37%

47%

30%

31%

23%

There is a striking difference between younger and older workers on making full use of their skills and talents peaking at 27 per cent for 35-44 year olds. Older workers are the most likely to be in the ‘happy about their job’ segment, but least likely to be in the ‘happy about their pay’ group. Younger workers are a mirror image.

Middle years workers (35-44) are the most likely to be in the insecure group.

 

happy about job

happy about pay

underpaid

insecure

overworked

18-24

19%

25%

14%

25%

17%

25-34

17%

23%

15%

23%

21%

35-44

20%

18%

15%

28%

19%

45-54

27%

15%

18%

19%

21%

55+

28%

16%

18%

20%

17%

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Next I’ll take a look at the five groups in more detail. Or you could just read Work in Britain 2014

This is the first post in a series on this poll. Here are links to the set.

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