To be happy at work, be a florist not a banker

In: BlogDate: Nov 14, 2012By: Henry Stewart

If you want to be happy at work, don’t go and work in the financial services industry. That is the message from the Career Happiness Index 2012, conducted by City and Guilds. Click here for the fabulous Infographic of the results.

One thing that is clear from the results is that working in a high pay profession doesn’t necessarily make you happy:

  • Happiest Professions: Florist, gardener, hairdresser, plumber
  • Unhappiest professions: Bankers, IT workers, HR staff

There have been similar surveys before, especially in the USA. found Financial Analysts were bottom of a list of 300 professions for happiness, while singers and fire fighters came top.

City and Guilds notes that those in vocationally-trained skills-based jobs are happier than those in academic-trained, office-based jobs.But the overwhelmingly happiest are the self-employed, those in full control of their work.

This is released in the week that Richard Branson wrote that the best measure of business success is happiness. You won’t be surprised to know I agree with that! And I firmly believe, based on our experience working with a wide range of companies, that all workplaces could be happy. But, as with those happy self-employed, we need to give people control of their jobs and the trust and freedom to feel ownership and satisfaction.

If banking focused more on making their people feel valued and motivated, and less on short-term financial gain, then maybe they would not just be better places to work but give better service to their customers too. I like to think that in that kind of culture scandals like PPI miss-selling might never have happened.

Check out the Happy Manifesto or my list of 80 ideas for a happy workplace, if you want help making your organisation happier.


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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

Outside of work he is a father of three, was Chair of Governors at his local primary and comprehensive in Hackney and a very keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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