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



Reding stirs up the debate on women quota in Europe again

At the beginning of 2012 only 3.2% of executive positions in publicly listed companies in Europe were filled with women.  Last year EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called for European’s largest companies to fill their executive boards with women. However, it didn’t generate the desired result. Far from it! Only 24 companies signed the “Women on the Board” pledge. This pledge aims to increase the number of women in executive positions up to 30% by 2012 and 40% by 2020. Not a single German company was among them. Now Reding wants to develop concrete proposals for a Europe-wide gender quota for large companies by summer 2012. Norway can be classified as a successful model in introducing a similar mandatory quota.


But there is already notably resistance to a legally binding quota. The German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder refuses to be dictated with the terms of the European Union although German commentators agree that there is a lack in the gender equality in the professional world. However, they are at one with Schroeder because they believe that a quota is not the best solution.

On one hand there are many points to argue against a gender quota. If the companies agree to the pledge they have to employ many women within the next 3 years which leads to a preferential treatment.  Furthermore the nation has to create programs which offer women the opportunities to combine their professional life with family life. In most of the European countries these programs have not been discussed. On the other hand, companies resist on finding a fair solution to dress the balance between executive men and women. The Norwegian example shows that the balance between men and women in companies leads to an increase in transparency and a professionalization of decision-making which in turn is a gain for the companies. This process however may take a long time for companies and it is unclear if they can meet the requirements in such few years.

In conclusion, we can say that most aren’t thrilled about an implementation of quotas, but that they achieve at least the desired results.  Otherwise we have to ask ourselves if it is necessary to achieve the results within such a short period time and if there are as many women who want the same kind of careers as men. The real question is, if Norway can accomplish equality within the workplace why hasn’t the rest of Europe followed?



During crisis temporary jobs can help people get back into work

Work and the workplace have a key role to play in giving meaning and structure to our lives, especially in today’s difficult economy, and the European Commission is right to showcase active inclusion to correct the negative social effects of the crisis, writes Anne Marie Muntz, the president of Eurociett, the European association of private employment agencies.

“As the EU launches its 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, aimed at getting as many people into work as possible while ensuring proper support mechanisms for those without jobs, the Commission is correct to recognize the potential impact that unemployment could have on starting to erode social inclusion.

Governments across the EU have sought to stem the problem by introducing ‘back to work’ initiatives to subsidize jobs and employers, in order to keep people in the workplace. They realize that taking action now could help to avoid the potential social consequences of long-term unemployment on workers, their families and society.

Exposing people to the workplace and ensuring that we do not create a ‘lost generation’ as a consequence of the current jobs crisis will be vital across the EU 27. The agency work sector offers solutions to both short and long-term employment challenges by maintaining employment, upgrading skills and enhancing labor market access.

By co-operating closely with both public employment services and local authorities, agencies drive mobility among sectors and match supply to demand by providing a ‘flexible layer’ that helps employers adapt to economic cycles.”

One of the opportunities is to support EU goals in three key areas: facilitating transitions in the workplace, providing training and upskilling and enhancing market access.

“Managing transition in the workplace is crucial to supporting people from unemployment into employment and then from temporary positions to permanent ones. In Belgium for example, 65% of those accepting temporary work move on to a more permanent job. The sector drives labor market mobility – geographical, occupational and social – and matches people with jobs. Its network across Europe enables it to direct workers from sectors that are retracting into those looking to increase their workforce in line with renewed demand.

The Commission has recognized the importance of labor mobility in recent regulation and will need to drive these policies as part of its commitment to combat poverty and social exclusion in 2010. They go hand-in-hand with its ‘New Skills for New Jobs’ initiative, which aims to re-train workers who are unemployed or are stuck in declining industries and equip them to work in the new and emerging sectors.

Vocational training and skills enhancement programmes prepare employees to meet market demand and manage the transition between jobs and sectors. Public-private partnerships have made training schemes more widely available and have helped vulnerable groups like youth and the long-term unemployed to ready up for the new labor market. Over the past year, the agency work industry has set up sector-level bipartite training funds in an increasing number of countries with some € 524 million invested and benefiting some 643,000 workers.

To drive higher employment rates, Europe needs to broaden access to labor markets, including opening up opportunities for ethnic minorities and workers with disabilities. Younger workers are particularly over-represented among the unemployed as they are often the hardest hit in times of crisis. At the other end of the scale, as we face an ageing population and increasing pressure on pensions in the wake of the financial crisis, temporary work enables people nearing retirement to take a flexible approach to gradually transitioning out of fulltime work.

If Europe is to be effective in reducing social exclusion, it is going to have to work in partnership with the public and private services that support and promote employment and training.”

© 04.02.2010

What do Europeans think about their working conditions?

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) recently published results for a Europe-wide survey conducted on occupational safety and health. The results show that a lot of Europeans have concern that the current economic crisis could adversely affect the safety and health risk for the last five years occurred improvements. Many Europeans think they are well informed about safety and health, and recognize it as an important factor in choosing a new job.

The economic downturn causes the pressure on employees in Europe

According to the survey 6 of 10 Europeans provides that the global economic downturn will make working conditions worse, especially health and safety. Most respondents (75%) believe that the health problems at least partly are caused by the work of the people.

EU-OSHA director Jukka Takala awares the challenges with which today entrepreneurs are facing and recalls the need to invest in employee health: “Because of the financial crisis organizations can ignore workplace safety and health significance or reduce it.

There is a risk that employers will reduce the contribution of work safety and health (OSH). EU-OSHA task is to convince them that this is not the right time to get some small benefit instead of long-term problems.

Salary and job security are key issues

Because of the unemployment people are more concerned about the current job stability, not about working conditions of security and safety of health.

Reflecting on the key factors determining the choice of a new job, European Union citizens consider that the job security and wage levels are more important factors than a safe and healthy working conditions, the survey ranked in third place before the working day.

Qualitative information – better health protection and job safety

Encouraging news is that people in many countries (particularly in the EU-15) believes that they are well informed about the possible risks of a job and 57% of respondents believe that the last five years, the health and safety is improved.

Gender gaps

Survey results also show people the difference in treatment based on gender OSH. Male respondents on accepting jobs considered wages (61%) and job security (55%), compared with a smaller percentage of women surveyed (53% and 51%). In contrast, women (26%) greater weight than men (19%) give a working day duration.

In addition, more male respondents (62%) than women (only 52%) believe that health and safety conditions in recent years have improved, men (71%) also feel better informed about the safety and health issues than women (61 %).

Jukka Takala, said: “In fact, women in workplace safety and her health risks are not adequately assessed and treated to be lax. Some of the new challenges faced, is the inability to combine work and family life, the”double exchange”, which is still in proportion affects more women, and the fact that more attention is paid to accidents rather than occupational health (and thus more attention is paid industries and occupations that are dominated by men). It is important to implement a gender-specific approach to occupational health and safety issue. EU -OSHA will continue to work with this issue in order to provide a better understanding of European business environment.”

EU-OSHA has played a major role in occupational safety and health process in Europe for over ten years and will continue to implement pro-active approach to improving working conditions.

The agency implemented the campaign “Healthy Workplaces” as well as the European Week for Safety and Health at Work from the 19th to 23rd October, which is the world’s largest information campaign on OSH matters involving thousands of organizations and workers across Europe.