Job satisfaction in Europe – An international comparison

In which European countries are employees most satisfied with their job? Where are the least satisfied from? And which determinants influence job satisfaction? The purpose of this post is to compare briefly the extent and determinants of employees’ job satisfaction on European level.

In Europe many determinants influence satisfaction of employees, but several EU-surveys show the same result: A comparison of job satisfaction (measured on a scale from 1 “not at all satisfied” to 4 “very satisfied”) in Europe shows that the average level of satisfaction in most countries is high. But it can be recognized that the level of job satisfaction varies at national level. Denmark is the country with the most satisfied employees in average. Second is the United Kingdom, followed by Norway, Switzerland and Austria. At the other end, there are many Eastern European countries with a low level of job satisfaction in average. The countries with the lowest job contentment are Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and finally Turkey, which is very striking, because it has by far the worst result.


Job satisfaction is influenced by the following numerous parameters (in brackets the correlation to satisfaction). The most important factors are (there are even more):

  • wage (there is a positive correlation between wage and satisfaction, which means that people who think that they are well paid, are more satisfied)
  • health(healthier employees enjoy their work much more than less healthier. And workers who think that their work has a negative impact on their own health are less satisfied)
  • secure workplace (employees who know that their workplace is secure and that they do not have to be afraid to get unemployed soon are more satisfied)
  • working time flexibility (the more flexibility workers have to decide when to start or leave their work to match their own needs with their private life, the more satisfied they are with their job)
  • type of employment contract (employees with an unlimited contract are more pleased than employees with a temporary contract)
  • education(the higher the education level, the higher the degree of job satisfaction in average)
  • job match (workers who consider that they are over- or under-qualified with their job declare lower job satisfaction than those who have a good job-match)

So how can the results in the differences of Europe`s job satisfaction be explained with respect to the determinants?

Of course it depends on the different working conditions. The average gross-income is in the United Kingdom (3135€) and in the Scandinavian states (highest in Denmark 4217€) significantly higher than in the rest of Europe. The lowest average gross-income are in the Eastern European countries (e.g. Slovakia 783€, Romania 498€, Bulgaria 306€) and Turkey (350-400€). Furthermore, the studies show that in Turkey, most Eastern and South European countries not only the level of physical stress is significantly higher than in the Northern countries, but there is also a higher number of temporary employment contracts and they have the highest working hours per week (e.g. UK 35.42h, Denmark 36.77h, Norway 34.62 vs. Greece 45.19h, Romania 46.24h, Turkey 54.35h). Moreover the countries in the north of Europe have a higher level of flexible working time and employees can manage private and business life better according to their needs.

The surveys reveal in a short conclusion, that the higher the welfare of a country is, the higher it`s gross domestic product is and the more developed it is, the higher is the job satisfaction in average.

But there are also very interesting results and key developments for whole Europe since the last years, which will continue in the future:

  • there is a continuous shift from primary and secondary sector to the third sector
  • the percentage of women in leading positions is increasing
  • the number of temporary employment contracts is rising
  • the working hours per week are declining in average
  • 20% of all Europeans have problems to coordinate private- and business life
  • the intensity of work is high and has increased in the last 20 years

written by Nicolas Lauer, Matthias Lerch, Timo Bug



4 thoughts on “Job satisfaction in Europe – An international comparison

  1. It’s always interesting how such a small continent can be so different. I’ve heard a lot about job satisfaction in Poland, but I thought the situation would be worse. According to this survey we score just slightly below the European average (it’s the comparison with the wealthiest that shows the disproportion). The main ongoing concern is the increasing rate of short-term employment agreements with vague terms of working conditions, which make workers unsure about their position, therefore decreasing their feeling of safety and at the same time satisfaction and efficiency. You often hear about people hired and fired after a period of free trial. Finding a steady job is probably going to be difficult for us, people just entering the labour market,

  2. In some countries it is not a surprise that the employees are satisfied with their job because of their healthy economy and low unemployed rates. But I think this ranking will change in some decades if the countries with a high youth unemployment rate change anything soon for example Ireland and especially Cyprus. Those are the countries which are one of the best in these ranking but witch a very high youth unemployment rate. If they will change nothing I predict many workers won’t be very satisfied with their job because they haven’t one.

  3. I think that the most important factor of job satisfaction is wage. In Slovakia wages are low, so employees are not satisfied with their work. Even secure workplace, flexibility of working time are commonplace, employees have low wages so they are unsatisfied with their jobs. They cannot afford products which they need or want. I think that generally higher wages mean better working conditions.
    It is really interesting, that on one continent there are so big differences in gross income. Difference between Denmark and Bulgaria is 3911€! In my opinion these differences are the main reasons of immigration people from Eastern Europe to Scandinavia and other advanced countries in Europe.

  4. I find it very interesting to read how different the job satisfaction among the European countries is. I have heard before that the job satisfaction in north Europe like the Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom is very high. But for me it was surprising that in the Turkey employees worked around 54.35 hours a week. It is a really high number compared to other European countries. On the other hand, they have one of the lowest gross-income. How can this be? In my home country Germany I read in a survey that around 90 % of the employees are satisfied with their job, 96 % believe that they have a secure workplace and 80 % compliment the good working atmosphere. At my point of view, in the future there will be some changes concerning the job satisfaction, because a lot of European countries are facing incredible high youth unemployment rates and have to overcome the consequences of the financial crisis.


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