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Can't get no satisfaction: UK workers among the most dissatisfied in Europe

Employees are more dissatisfied with their jobs and work-life balance in the UK than in most other European countries. Out of 20 European countries responding, only 6 were more dissatisfied than the UK, according to statistics reported in the British Social Attitudes survey, led by NatCen Social Research.

Where is this dissatisfaction coming from and is there anything employers can do to reverse the trend?

The report laid some of the blame with the UK's long-hours culture, particularly because much of the work is unpaid. Almost half of UK employees (48 per cent) take on overtime in a typical week with 44 per cent of it being unpaid.

There's also a perception among workers that 'job quality' has declined during the economic downturn. The report found that people believed the nature of their work had changed for the worse in the last three years with almost a quarter saying they were now doing less interesting work than before. Fewer workers said that there was variety in their work.

More workers said they worked 'very hard' but one in five reported taking a reduction in pay during the last three years. More workers than before said they were unable to switch off from work, and that they worried about work problems when at home.

More than half of employees say that their workplace has experienced 'a great deal of financial difficulty' in the past three years and fewer workers consider their jobs to be as secure as before.

It's a gloomy picture, but the figures are more complicated than they seem. Although the UK compares badly to other European countries, job satisfaction here has actually increased during the downturn.

Even so, there's plenty that can be done to improve satisfaction levels. An effective work-life balance creates a positive, healthy and productive environment in the workplace. Opportunities for flexible working in tandem with comprehensive stress management programmes can make a big impact on wellbeing and increase employee engagement.

Acas offers detailed advice as well as practical training to assist with all aspects of improving Work/life balance, helping employers to develop positive plans for creating better, healthier and more productive working environment.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

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