We suppose this survey of 8,000 workers across the United States, Canada, India, and Europe makes it somewhat official: America is number one! Number one in the percentage of employees who hate their jobs, that is.
Monster.com and market research company GfK conducted the study, which revealed that only 53% of Americans actively enjoy their jobs, and 15% actively dislike them. Canadians, meanwhile, took top prize for having the cheeriest workforce: 64% of Canadians like their jobs, while only 7% hate what they do. Other nations fell somewhere in between, which you can see in this infographic below:
"There’s been lots of studies done about how Europeans have more vacation days, or have better work-life balance. The other side of it is that there’s a lot of information about Americans working too many hours," Joanie Ruge, senior vice president at the job search site Monster Worldwide, Inc. said. "More companies are trying to get more work done with less people."
This doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, given that the United States has some of the most backward labor practices in the world. It’s one of the few countries that doesn’t require paid annual leave or paid maternity leave by law. The highest earners in the U.S. work 60 to 80 hours a week, and overall, the U.S. has some of the longest working hours among developed nations.
That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more productive, however. Germany, for example, averages a 35-hour work week but also maintains the fourth largest economy in the world.
Still, only 34% of Germans actively enjoy their work, and 10% dislike it, according to the survey—a rate somewhat similar to France, which mandates a 35-hour work week.
Is it ambivalence? Maybe more time just means that work doesn’t consume the entirety of French and German lives. Maybe their passions lie at home, in their rich inner lives, or in hobbies. Managers in Canada, meanwhile, are focusing their efforts on improving employee engagement and happiness while at work, which could account for the difference, says Rouge.
Of course, there’s always the option to shift to the 30-hour work week, as suggested by British think tank the New Economics Foundation. When I recently spoke to Anna Coote, head of the group's social policy, she pointed out that the number of hours worked no longer relates to efficiency at work, and that long hours have all sorts of extra costs (like increased greenhouse gas emissions) we don’t usually consider. Coote also noted that big American companies could play a significant role in shifting the broader office culture in the U.S. to a better work-life balance.
So, can we move past this awful work-life balance thing, yet? It’d be nice to do so without having to move to Canada.