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But are you happy?

The BBC news this morning was twittering about a new report from the City & Guilds Institute into how happy people are at work.  Accounts, Pharmacists, media types and Estate Agents (trans: Realtors) came out bottom with 4% "very happy".  We were more or less in the middle at 14% and Care Assitants came out top at 40% dispite the fact the pay's crap.  Bless.

The original press release (which most of the news seems to regugitating word for word) is here: 

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 19, 2004

Interesting point - they say that "hands on" work brings the most satisfaction. I don't know about you, but for me that translates directly to designing, writing code, etc. In other words, it's all the other sh*t that I have to do to get through the working week that p*sses me off.

Just let me do my job, damn it!
Friday, March 19, 2004

Well I reckon that this is the key:

Ask a child what a hairdresser does, they'll probably say "they do hair".

What does a care assistant do? This is a little harder, but it's easy to explain: "takes care of sick people or people who can't take care of themselves".

What does a mechanic do? "Fixes cars."

What does a Multimedia Events Officer do? "Huh?"

What does a Senior Marketing Executive do? "What?"

What does a computer programmer do? "Programs computers..." - well, that's part of the story, for sure. Hence the partial satisfaction.

The secret to getting a highly paid job seems to be that no-one knows what your job really is. I've never been able to figure out how to get one of those jobs, but I don't think I would really want the job - just the pay.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, March 19, 2004

It was hardly a substantial study, they only interviewed 1000 people. How many plumbers did they find in that group, 2 or 3?

Tony Edgecombe
Friday, March 19, 2004

It's also worth remembering that City & Guilds provides vocational qualifications...

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 19, 2004

This make me think of the three arcs in the hich hikers guide.
One arc for artists, scientists, learders. People who make things progress.
One arc for craftsmen etc. People who can actualy build and repair things.
And the third arc with all the people inbetween. Like phone hygine specialists.

Thing is, there would probably have been software developers on all three arcs, and which arc youre on probably has a great deal to do with how satisfying your job is.
I guess we all would like to be on the first one, to participate in the evolving of computing etc. The second one is ok, to make usefull applications that make other peoples life easier.
But far too often we end up on the third, in Dilbert land.

Eric Debois
Friday, March 19, 2004

For what its worth, over the years I have seen people with C & G computer programming qualifications. They may have changed it since but the C language one was bizarre, and frankly the people who had done it did not come up 'knowing C' in any meaningful sense of the phrase 'knowing C'.
I don't think it covered pointers!

This is no disrespect to the people (or even the people training them) the problem is the syllabus.

I felt that they had been cruelly deceived.

Harvey Pengwyn
Friday, March 19, 2004

Actually, there are three "arcs", but it has nothing to do with what you described. Instead it has to do with motivation.

About a third of people are motivated by money. They look for whatever job will pay the most.

About another third tie it to status. For them, it's primarily about what position they hold, and how much respect they get from their peers.

The third group is all about job satisfaction. They look for fulfilling jobs that will make them actually happy to go to work because they're doing what they enjoy.

It should come as no surprise that the people who fall into the third group not only are more satisfied at work, but also in their life outside of work. They may not earn the most money, or be leaders in their field, but that's not what brings happiness. Happiness comes from within, not from without.

So getting back to the original study, I'd say the reason why the carers are most likely to be happy is that since it's a low pay, dead end sort of a job, a greater percentage of people who choose to do it are from the "work doing what breings you happiness" category.

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, March 19, 2004

Or they're the most miserable people you can find, since they can't find the job that makes and keeps them happy.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Some nice theories. 

However, you don't think it's possible that the people at the top of the list meet clients / customers (delete as applicable) who are actually grateful for what they do whilst at the bottom don't?  Has anyone ever told an estate agent they're wonderful?

Plus, the one's at the top get to see the end result of their work.  Power of positive feedback maybe?

a cynic writes...
Friday, March 19, 2004

> people who fall into the third group not only are more satisfied at work, but also in their life outside of work

Sorry, but as Nigel pointed out the opposite is also possible. In fact one might even say more likely.

> Has anyone ever told an estate agent they're wonderful?

That is never goine to happen. And failed Estate Agents become recruiters.

Grumpy today
Friday, March 19, 2004

Happiness is a lot to ask.

son of parnas
Friday, March 19, 2004

Happines. Hell, i'd take not being miserable.

Friday, March 19, 2004

"Sorry, but as Nigel pointed out the opposite is also possible. In fact one might even say more likely."

I'm talking on average. Of course individual circumstances will vary!

I'm not pulling this out of my arse, there have been studies done on this. For example, the book "The Art of Happiness at Work", by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler references such studies.

On that topic, the book (and its predecesor, "The Art of Happiness") is an excellent source of inspiration if you're currently dissatisfied with your work. It doesn't offer any easy answers, but life doesn't usually have any easy answers.

Sum Dum Gai
Friday, March 19, 2004

"was hardly a substantial study, they only interviewed 1000 people. How many plumbers did they find in that group, 2 or 3?"

1000 is actually a reasonable number of people to sample; many political polls use similar sample sizes. You have to be realistic about data collection (cost, time etc.) while trying to achieve statistically-meaningful results. To ensure that the results are valid, one could include a number of plumbers (say) proportional to the number of plumbers in the population. Of course, you'd be more likely to use a category such as "medium-skilled manual workers" instead of "plumbers", but you get the idea. Basically, you don't want particular jobs to be over represented.

C Rose
Friday, March 19, 2004

The problem is that the reliability of a survey decreases with a smaller sample size.  For example, in a typical poll for a U.S. presidential election, there might be ~1000 people interviewed, which gives the overall results for the entire population about a 4% margin of error.

However, if you're measuring subpopulations within the survey (e.g., high school graduates vs. college graduates, or Caucasians vs. African American vs. Latino) the results depend on the size of each subpopulation.  If you're breaking out the results for particularly small populations (e.g., American Indian women) those results will be pretty meaningless.

Likewise, if the survey here had questioned 1000 plumbers, it might be an accurate measure of plumbers' opinions.  But if it's questioning 1000 people, and 5 happen to be plumbers, it has no reliability whatsoever with regard to plumbers.

OTOH, it doesn't look like this was even intended to be a serious scientific survey -- just a bit of marketing piffle. 

Robert Jacobson
Friday, March 19, 2004


The 3 arks (or ships) were filled with the 1. leaders & thinkers, the people who really made a difference, 2. the workers who actually produced everything, and 3. the useless middle who doesn't produce or lead, like middle management.

Of course, they just wanted to get rid of the usless middle, the other ships never left the planet. Unfortunately the entire population was wiped out from a disease caught by a dirty phone.

I think it's simple.

Work with people + see the benefits of your work = happy.

Work alone + nobody really benefits from your work = unhappy.

How complex do you have to make this?
Friday, March 19, 2004

> Care Assitants came out top at 40% dispite the fact the pay's crap.

Not sure what  acare assistant is, but if it's a nurse, the pay is hardly crap.  In my area, they clear $100k, b/c they get paid almost $50/hr, and get extra hourly pay for nights/weekend shifts..

Friday, March 19, 2004

> "hands on" work brings the most satisfaction

Well, for me there is always the feeling that i am working on top of ten layers of abstraction and work below another ten layers of abstraction.

.. or in other words building on top of 'giants' and working beneath of 'dwarfs'

That leaves the "hands on" part missing, at least for me.

(or maybe i just should not post drunk)

Michael Moser
Saturday, March 20, 2004

Bella  - a quick trawl of the wen found this:

"Care assistants or personal assistants work in residential and day care settings in a supporting role.

Typical activities include

* looking after the personal care needs of clients of all ages who have difficulty looking after themselves;
* working alongside other social work and health care staff." 

Basically they do the mucky bits (wiping bottoms for example) that don't require nurses.  I also checked and the pay rate for local authority homes is £211.79 per week (£5.72 / hour - minimum wage is £4.50 /hour)  Private employers can pay less.  BTW I don't care how happy they are, I wouldn't do it for that money.

a cynic writes...
Saturday, March 20, 2004

My father was the head carer for a severely mentally, and minor physically handicapped grown man. He did this job for 10 years with a maximum pay of $13.50 per hour (less if he had to cover another persons shift).

The work was damn hard (did a little myself). He was congratulated by people a great deal. People even stopped their cars to say what a great thing he was doing.

He definitely wasn't happy, in fact, I could go as far as to say he hated it.

Jack of all
Saturday, March 20, 2004

For those who dont know the Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy...

Golgafrincham, home of the Great Circling Poets of Arium, decided it was time to rid itself of an entire useless third of its population, and so concocted a story that their planet would shortly be destroyed in some great catastrophe. The useless population (consisting of hairdressers, tired TV producers, insurance salesmen, personnel officers, security guards, management consultants, telephone sanitisers and the like) were packed into the B-Ark, one of three giant Ark spaceships, and told that everyone else would follow shortly in the other two. The other two thirds of the population, of course, did not follow and "led full, rich and happy lives until they were all suddenly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone."

The B-Ark was programmed to crash-land on the first planet it came across, which happened to be Earth, and the Golgafrinchans gradually usurped the native cavemen, becoming the ancestors of humanity and thereby ruining the great experiment to find the question for the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Monday, March 22, 2004

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