Miserable at Work? Our Research Reveals Why

Published on: 1 Mar 2021

We surveyed over 2,000 employees to understand why people are miserable at work, what makes them stay and if there are variations across professions and cities.

Our research revealed that, on average, people who have spent two years at their workplace have spent 1,722 long hours dissatisfied in their role. This is equivalent to almost 72 days!

On top of this, it was calculated that a third of Brits (32%) spend half of their annual working hours, an average of 861 hours and 12 minutes each year, dissatisfied at work. Over a lifetime that adds up to a staggering six years and six months that people spend unhappy with their jobs.


What is the impact?

“When we are not happy at work, it inevitably has an impact on our performance” said Dr. Becky Spelman, a leading psychologist. According to Dr. Spelman, the most common causes are when we:

  • Feel that our work makes no contribution to the world
  • Have issues with colleagues or managers
  • Feel overwhelmed by stress.


No Purpose at Work

It’s plain and simple; a job that makes you feel unimportant isn’t going to fill you with motivation. This is why Dr. Spelman states that a feeling of no purpose can be a cause of dissatisfaction.  A common reason for people being unsatisfied with their jobs is that we feel like our job has no real purpose or impact.


Issues with Colleagues or Managers

It’s a widely known saying that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Unfortunately, negative relationships can develop between managers and colleagues, which can contribute to an unhappy working environment.



Nobody likes to feel stressed, especially when we spend such a large proportion of our lives at work. A little stress at work can be expected, but when escalated it can create chaos in the work place with illness, low morale, and a high staff turnover. An open line of communication between the employers and employees can go far in reducing this.


The Least Satisfied Professions 

Research shows that job satisfaction varies significantly among professions, with the highest proportion of disillusioned workers in customer service:

  • 37% of customer service executives
  • 34% of hospitality employees
  • 34% of administrators
  • 33% of shop workers
  • 28% of nurses and care workers
  • 24% of teachers
  • 24% of van and truck drivers
  • 16% of construction workers


Which Cities are Hit the Hardest? 

The results also reveal that people spending more than half their time dissatisfied at work varies significantly among cities.

Top four cities where people are dissatisfied at work:

  1. 60% Wolverhampton
  2. 50% Sunderland
  3. 50% Carlisle
  4. 50% Walsall

Bottom four cities where people are dissatisfied at work:

  1. 5% Aberdeen
  2. 9% Bath
  3. 11% Newcastle
  4. 11% Durham