The Australian workplace is plagued with chronically low levels of engagement. In fact a new study by pac executive Human Capital has shown that 1 in 3 Australians are unhappy in their job, findings that present a very real problem for employers.
The nation-wide survey of over 1,300 Australians found the highest levels of unhappiness among Gen Y’s, with almost 40% of millennials reporting to work joyless jobs. Australian employees are happiest from their mid 50s onwards, with only 23% reporting job dissatisfaction.
Australian men are more likely to be miserable at work (32%) than women (30%). And surprisingly, the highest earners in the country don’t rank well either, with almost 34% feeling gloomy at the office despite their $300K+ salary.
How much do the happiest workers earn? Between $70K-$90K, according to the study. Those nearing the bottom of the income scale are the least cheerful, with the lowest proportion of happy workers falling within the $50K-$70K pay bracket. Job satisfaction significantly drops for professionals working more than 50 hours per week, and to no surprise it’s those working 60+ hours experiencing the most misery.
So, what does all of this information mean for the Australian business sector?
Cholena Orr, Director of pac executive Human Capital says, “The research paints a pretty bleak picture of the Australian workforce. Not only are we miserable at work; our study shows clear links between happiness and productivity, and the results reveal just how harmful unhappy employees can be to the bottom line.
“Put simply, the way people feel at work profoundly influences how they perform, and unhappy employees are 22% less productive than their happy counterparts. In fact, companies with high-levels of employee happiness derive drastically superior productivity levels.”
If you’re concerned that your employees are among the 32% who aren’t happy, Cholena suggests looking at these 5 daily behaviours for clues:
1. They’re bothered by the wrong things
Your unhappy workers are the ones who focus on things they can’t control. This can be anything from the weather, to the market or the direction of the business. Unhappy employees report higher instances of procrastination, have 16% more difficultly focusing on important work and are 17% more likely to attend unnecessary and unproductive meetings.
They avoid responsibility through absenteeism, blaming others, downplaying the importance of incomplete work, or assigning undue significance to relatively unimportant work. Generally this comes from feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, or feeling afraid of failure or success. To counteract this behavior, set no more than three clear goals and encourage them to take time each week to plan ahead, helping them to overcome procrastination and regain focus on things that are within their control.
2. They complain about lacking direction from management
Unhappy workers are 31% more likely to complain about having no direction, and there are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, happy employees are more present and thus take on-board the various communications management use to outline company direction, and in turn can identify alignment in their day-to-day work.
Unhappy workers will also often avoid contact with management, failing to gain the clarity they need to provide them with direction. As a leader you must discuss strategy and outline clear key performance indicators in a one-on-one discussion. Never leave it up to email and group communications as messaging will likely be misinterpreted.
3. They have difficulty focusing
Are you getting blank stares in meetings? Do you notice employees who are constantly distracted? Is there a member of your team who is more likely to interrupt other workers with non-work related conversations? This is a big one and can be a complicated fix.
Once you have helped your employee to gain clarity of purpose, and plan, the next step is helping them identify and overcome the things that are causing them to lack focus. Poor email management, too many meetings, messy workspaces and lack of exercise all contribute to poor focus.
4. They come in late or work excessive hours
Our research found that unhappy workers were 13% more likely to work more than 50 hours per week. Working longer hours doesn’t necessary mean your employees produce better outcomes, and in fact can be detrimental to performance.
Productive employees work reasonable hours. Happy workers are 10% more likely to have a better work life balance and 20% more likely to achieve their personal goals.
- They are working in a mess
Unhappy employees are 17% more likely to have a messy workspace than their happy counterparts. And it’s not just their desks; their inbox is likely to be overflowing and their soft files are all over the place. This means they are 14% more likely to be spending up to 2 hours per day looking for information they’ve misplaced. Introduce a clean desk policy and have a regular de-cluttering day for staff, the benefits are tenfold.
Besides the impact on productivity, no one likes to think their employees are unhappy. Take things one at a time, expecting your employees to change everything at once is unsustainable and just leads to further stress and unhappiness.
Check out pac executive Human Capital’s latest press release, detailing findings from our study on Happiness in the Workplace.
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