Surprise! Happy Workers are Busy Workers

December 28, 2004 ( - While some supervisors might assume workers always want to do less work, a new study suggested that might not always be the case.

A survey by the Purchase, New York-based Sirota Consulting found that the employees happiest with their workplace lot in life say they have just the right amount of responsibilities, rating their situation at 73 on a 100-point scale, according to a Sirota news release . Those laboring under too heavy a load were far behind on the satisfactions scale at 57.

Despite expectations that workers with too much free time in the office would count their blessings, the Sirota survey found that those employees actually were the most unhappy – giving their plight a scant 32.

The Sirota announcement said the ratings on the 100-point scale were:

  • Workload is “about right” (73)
  • “Too much work” (57)
  • “Too little work” (49)
  • “Much too much work” (42)
  • “Much too little work” (32)

The trend is even more pronounced among European and Asian workers who are about three times less satisfied with having “much too little work” than North American workers, according to the survey.

Europeans gave being overly underworked a satisfaction rating of only a 12, and Asian employees gave it only a 13. Employees in Europe and Asia also are less satisfied than North American workers with having “much too much work”, although the differences are not as great. European and Asian employees with “much too much work” rated their overall job satisfaction at 34 and 25 respectively, while similar North American employees had a job satisfaction rating of 44.

“Although there is a cost to employers when their employees are overworked, there may be an even bigger cost due to boredom from being underworked,” said Jeffrey Saltzman, Sirota chief executive officer, in the announcement. “Companies need to consider employees’ expectations for having the proper amount of work in order to achieve the best productivity, morale, and employee retention. It’s a balancing act to get this formula right for all types of workers in different settings.”

The study included over 800,000 employees at 61 organizations worldwide. 75% of these have operations in North America, 11% have operations in Europe, and 14% have operations in Asia.