Job satisfaction? Not much for Britain's hard slog 'robot' workers

Having to work harder and act like 'robots', with little scope for personal initiative, are the chief reasons for declining job satisfaction in Britain, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC.

Feelings of insecurity, too high expectations and people being 'over-educated' and unable to find work to match their qualifications, are largely dismissed as factors, in the study led by Professor Francis Green of the University of Kent.

His team found no evidence to back suggestions that the dull mood of workers may be due to successive generations having ever higher expectations from their jobs and being disappointed by the realities of employment.

The investigation, which also looked at other European countries and the United States, signals a falling sense of well-being among both British and German workers, but admits defeat when it comes to explaining the decline in Germany.

In Britain, between 1972 and 1983 there was a small downward trend in average job satisfaction. There is a lack of data for much of the 1980s, but during the 1990s, three separate sources show significant declines.

Average job satisfaction also fell in West Germany between 1984 and 1997, after which it recovered slightly until 2000. Immediately after re-unification, East Germans had very much lower job satisfaction than workers in West Germany, but the gap narrowed within a couple of years. After 1994, however, East Germans settled also into a decline, in line with the rest of the country.

The study found a modest downward movement in the Netherlands over 1994-2000 and in Finland over 1996-2000, yet in neither case is it significant, nor is there any notable trend elsewhere in Europe.

In the US, there was a small downward trend in job satisfaction from 1972 to 2002. But the figures suggests that even over 100 years, it would only fall by 0.1 points - not much on a possible range of 1 to 4.

Professor Green said: "The most satis

Contact: Becky Gammon
Economic & Social Research Council

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