From the TUC

People who are happy at work

15 Nov 2014, by in Working Life

This is the third post about the recent YouGov poll on attitudes to work commissioned by the TUC. YouGov used sophisticated statistical techniques to divide the workforce into five groups based on similar patterns of responses.

The cluster analysis identifies two groups distinguished by positive attitudes to aspects of their work. We look at the “happy with their job” group (22 per cent of the total) and the “happy with their pay” group (19 per cent of the workforce) together in this post as the differences between the two make some interesting points.

The ‘happy about their job’ group are more female, older and more likely to be white collar than the workforce as a whole. The ‘happy with their pay’ group are almost a mirror image of the former group (so while those in the ‘happy about their job’ group are more likely to be women, those in the ‘happy about their pay’ group are more likely to be men). This chart shows this mirror effect. (These charts show the difference from the sample as a whole – in other words if men made up the same proportion of a group as they did of the working population as a whole then the difference would be zero. As we can see the ‘happy about pay’ group is nearly 6 per cent more male than the population as a whole.) 


You might expect a straightforward relationship between what salary people are paid and whether they are happy. The chart shows that this is not true – although the differences from average on this chart are less than the ones on the previous one.


There are a number of likely factors going on here. This is not the only poll that shows that part-time workers are more likely to be happy about their jobs than full time workers. As salary is measured as annual income – rather than hourly pay – the lower groups are likely to be dominated by part-timers – though we also know that part-time women workers are the lowest paid group in the workforce so also likely to be unhappy about their pay.

The least happy are the £35,000 to £50,000 group – better paid than average but not rich. They are both less likely to be happy about their job or their pay than the workforce as a whole.

The sectoral breakdown is also interesting. The two predominantly public sector groups – health and education – are both more likely to be in the happy about their jobs groups than other sectors (if we ignore the others) – and much the least likely to be in the happy about their pay group. IT workers are the most likely to be in the happy about their pay group.   


Given the living standards crisis, it might be thought unlikely that anyone much was happy about their pay. So in this final chart in this post we show the net measure for questions about pay for the workforce as a whole as well as the two happy groups. We can see that this group is noticeably out of line with the workforce as a whole on thinking their pay has kept up with inflation and being paid fairly. They also think that their performance related pay systems are fair. But even the ‘happy about their pay’ group think that the pay gap between the top and the rest has grown and is too big. Interestingly, people happy about their job are the least likely to think the pay gap has grown.


Thanks to Lars Ploughmann for the C-C picture.

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

3 Responses to People who are happy at work

  1. Heather Wakefield
    Nov 16th 2014, 11:26 am

    Are you able to extrapolate anything about local government workers from the data? If so, it would be muchg appreciated. Thanks, Heather

  2. Nigel Stanley

    Nigel Stanley
    Nov 17th 2014, 11:27 am

    Sorry Heather but we can’t do a split for local government workers. We would need a bigger total sample to get a robust number of local government workers within it.

    We do have a public-private split. And I might have a look at that for a future post, but still working on the “unhappy” groups for now.