Happiness at work

Leah Mackenzie

By Leah Mackenzie, UniSuper Market Research Manager

Yes, it’s possible.

They say that if you love your job, you never have to work a day in your life. Finding happiness at work doesn’t necessarily mean a substantial pay packet or regular doughnut-laden morning teas.

Associate Professor, Rebecca Cassells from Curtin University contributed to the study ‘Happy workers: How satisfied are Australians at work?’ and uncovered some fascinating insights. An estimated 12 million Australians will work an approximate 20 billion hours in paid employment in 2017.1 And while a large part of our adult life is spent at work, how much of it is spent doing a job we enjoy is debatable.

In this thought-provoking study, 17,000 Australians were surveyed to determine who is happiest in their job and what defines their happiness.

So who are the happiest workers?

Approximately 61% of respondents aged 73 and over were most happy at work, but the figure drops considerably for the next age group. Only 33% of both Baby Boomers and the youngest generation of workers (Gen Z, aged 17 – 22) reported feeling ‘very satisfied’. The study showed that Gen Y (aged 23 – 37) and Gen X (38 – 52) were less happy. This was attributed to family life, mortgages and other adulthood responsibilities.

And where are the happiest workers? Workers living in urban areas reported feeling most dissatisfied with their job overall, whereas 38% of respondents living in remote or ‘very remote’ areas of the country reported being ‘very satisfied’. In terms of states and territories, Tasmania seems to be the happiest state, with the highest proportion of workers reporting they were ‘very satisfied’ at work.

Working from home puts a smile on our faces. An estimated 25% of Australians have the ability to perform some work from home on a weekly basis. This provides many benefits, including a break from the daily commute and fewer phone and colleague interruptions.

The survey revealed that 31% of people who work from home were generally ‘very satisfied’ with their work overall, compared with 19% who don’t work from home and reported feeling ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘not so satisfied’.

The study reinforces the fact that work is a core component of our lives, so it’s imperative that we’re happy in our jobs. Many variables contribute to a harmonious work life, such as the type of work we do, who we work with and of course, whether we’ve achieved a work/life balance.

And finally, our wellbeing should be a top priority to ensure we perform our role effectively.


1 Cassells, R (2017). Happy workers: How satisfied are Australian at work?