UK Workers Unhappy Despite More Time Off

Britain is often affectionately referred to as a nation of complainers.

If it’s not the weather, then it’s the public transport system. If it’s not the government, then it’s how many hours we spend at work.

But recent statistics suggest that we may in fact be enjoying all this complaining a little too much…

More Holidays, Less Work…

Over the last 20 years, working hours have dropped and the number of holidays taken has skyrocketed – and yet more and more people report dissatisfaction with their working hours.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released information yesterday revealing that in the last two decades, the number of people working part-time hours in the UK has risen by 6.8% as the number of people working over 45 hours a week has fallen by 4.8%.

At the same time, the number of holidays taken for leisure or to visit loved ones both in the UK and abroad has risen from around 25,000 a year to over 148 million.

…But Britain Sings the Blues

“Do we live to work or work to live?” the ‘Measuring National Well-being – What We Do’ report asked of its readers yesterday. “Getting the right balance between work and leisure is important in determining the well-being of the nation.”

But although the numbers seem to be more in our favour now than ever before, 48% of respondents claim that their overall well-being is negatively impacted by the time they spend working.

So why are we so unhappy with our working hours when we spend more time away from the office now than at any other time in recent history? ONS numbers suggest that what we choose to do with our spare time could be a factor:

• 9 out of every 10 people in the UK get home only to watch TV

• Just 54% engage in any sort of physical activity outside of work

• Volunteering and charitable activities are at their lowest point in a decade

Not All Doom and Gloom

The best news in the report is that 77.8% of working adults are ‘somewhat’, ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ happy with their jobs – reflecting a steady year-on-year rise in job satisfaction across the UK.

So maybe that’s why we’re so miserable away from the office…?

Elsewhere on the Blog…

Three in Ten Employees Suffer Psychologically at Work

Britain: Land of the Rich and Stressed?

89% Bad Bosses Demotivating the Workforce

Posted by Julia Fox on: Friday, 30 March 2012 at 11:04 AM


  • Daisy

    Most Americans not only get far less vacation time than the British, most of us skip using at least some vacation hours per year. We also have a high rate of job dissatisfaction and disengagement. I think it’s really more about life dissatisfaction rather than work. We need more meaning both on the job and off the job. That’s what will make us happier.


    The problem in this country is that we live to work instead of the ozzie philosophy of working to live because they have a climate that make you want to be doing other things. For instance enjoying the time we have on this planet instead of working to fill up some miserable tight arsed bosses pocket for no thanks. Oh and don’t forget the size of the shovel the tax man in this country uses in order to fund his ridiculous spending on benefit scroungers and immigrants to say nothing of the waste within our society . That in itself is a demotivating factor. Then you look at the tanker drivers who are earning more than the national wage and yet they’re still not happy. nobody forced them to do it. I would just sack the lot and tell them to go and work sdomewhere else if they weren’t satisfied. They should be grateful they have a job at the moment.