A village in Scotland that didn't actually top the chart. Photo: Peter Mercator/CC

Friday 15th January 2016

Down towns

Where do the UK's unhappiest employees dwell?

There’s a lot of gloom around at the moment. Monday coming, for example, is the alleged Blue Monday, the day on which many different factors (weather, debt, broken resolutions) conspire to make everyone about as happy as Jeremy Corbyn in a Chicken Hut. Analysts are talking about another recession, loads of celebrities are passing away and there’s at least a year to go until the next Star Wars movie comes out.

Thankfully, most of this glummery is transient. It’ll be gone before we know it, the lambs will again be frolicking in the fields and we’ll be feeling the metaphorical sun on our metaphorical backs. But spare a thought for those people who work in towns and cities that for one reason or another are – well, just plain unhappy all the time.

Enter recent research from those MBTI-hawkers OPP. They spoke to 2500 people throughout the UK to establish where, geographically, might be found the happiest and unhappiest employees.

Along the way they established some interesting statistics: apparently the top three factors that influence employee happiness are workload (26%), salary increases (25%) and changes in management (22%). (Not quite sure what the last one means, but we’re guessing that new managers offer a perceived opportunity for career reinvention, or something.)

Not so funny money

The unhappiest industries are Finance, Retail/Catering/Leisure and Manufacturing/Utilities. Which surprises us, because we thought the unhappiest industries might be grave digging, abattoir cleanliness and working as an assistant to Naomi Campbell.

What might make employees happier? According to John Hackston, OPP’s Head of Research, it’s talking. ‘Employees highlight that improving communication within organisations is particularly important,’ he says. ‘Effective communication will not only improve performance and decision-making but also enables employees to better understand the organisation’s strategy.’

Well, that’s nice. But what about the towns and cities that appear to be just intrinsically morose? Norwich, Liverpool and Birmingham, the survey says, are the happiest locales. But where are those dreadful places that make Calvary look like Disneyland? Well, wait no longer – the answers are finally here.

The Third Unhappiest Place To Work

Photo: Worldviews/Shutterstock

There are some great employers in Glasgow – think Baxters, RBS and Whyte and Mackay – but clearly not enough to stop it hitting a pretty cruddy 66.3% satisfaction rate. (Top dog Norwich scores 77.3%, by the way.) Of course, there are some happy Glaswegians, such as Lorraine Kelly and James McAvoy – but they’ve moved out, to Westminster and Crouch End respectively. Smiley Carol Smillie still lives in Glasgow though, so there’s some hope for the place.

The Second Unhappiest Place To Work

Photo: Brendan Howard/Shutterstock.com

Cardiff is a great place for Financial Services employment: you could work for Legal & General, Admiral Insurance, or ING Direct. But the Welsh capital still has a measly 64.3% employee satisfaction rating. Can the place be that bad? According to The Book of Crap Towns, a Saturday afternoon in Cardiff consists of ‘lots of bemused valley people wandering around the St David’s shopping centre… marvelling at the fact that you can shop indoors and wondering whether they’ll ever be as glamorous as the girls in Debenhams.’ Yes, then.

Photo: R.Ashrafov/Shutterstock.com


The Unhappiest Place To Work of all

Last, and presumably least, comes Newcastle, with an even rubbisher 64.1% rating. Which is odd, given it’s usually high on the lists of best places to live in the UK and boasts impressive employers such as Greggs, Sage and Virgin Money. Maybe workers in Newcastle could cheer up by just getting out more: either stripping down to their essentials in the Bigg Market or visiting the Geordie club (right) where that little bloke from JLS can be seen hanging out with some reet bonny lasses. Well, he looks happy enough.

About the author

Andrew Baird

Andrew is the CEO of HRville. He is also Employer Brand Director of Blackbridge Communications, Editorial Director of Professionals in Law and an associate of The Smarty Train. Previously, he was the MD of TCS Advertising.