Research into job satisfaction by the Resolution Foundation think tank has found a stark divide between the experience of low earners, compared to those who earn more.
On average, just over half the employees surveyed (54 per cent) said that they were satisfied with their jobs in the decade since the 2010 financial crisis, compared to 59 per cent over the period from 1991/92 to 2009-2011.
However, this modest drop masked a sharp deterioration in the job satisfaction of low earners. In the early 1990s, 73 per cent of this group reported high job satisfaction, compared to 59 per cent among high-paid employees.
According to the foundation, this drop has been driven by rising levels of work intensity and stress and falling levels of control over their work. And while all workers have been affected by these trends as more people work in more stressful professional roles, low earners have been particularly exposed.
The share of employees who reported that their work was “always” or “often” stressful rose from 30 per cent in 1989 to 38 per cent in 2015, driven by an increase in reported stress levels among those in manual work.
The share of employees who “strongly agree” that their job required them to work “very hard” also increased from 30 per cent in 1992 to 46 per cent in 2017.
Likewise, the proportion reporting that they feel “used up” at the end of the working day much, most or all of the time increased from 20 per cent to 29 per cent over the same period (with women reporting a higher rate of change than men).
Almost half of employees (47 per cent) reported changes in 2017 in the way their work was organised within the last five years, down from 53 per cent in 2001. But when changes to workplace practices did happen, fewer employees reported that they had a say over them.
In particular, the research found a sizeable 17 percentage point fall in the share of employees in the lowest earning quartile having a say over decisions that change the way they do their job – from 44 per cent in 1992 to 27 per cent in 2017. In sharp contrast, the share reporting the same remained constant in the top quartile of the earnings distribution at just under 60 per cent.
Of those who reported they had no say in workplace changes, the proportion of employees who believed they should have more of a say fell by 16 percentage points from 66 per cent to 48 per cent between 2001 and 2017.
To read the report in full, click here.