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Happiness is... almost 90% of Northern Ireland workforce enjoys job satisfaction

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The pandemic has resulted in vast numbers of people working from home rather than going into their office - a change which is expected to have a longer-term impact on the use of office space

The pandemic has resulted in vast numbers of people working from home rather than going into their office - a change which is expected to have a longer-term impact on the use of office space

PA

The pandemic has resulted in vast numbers of people working from home rather than going into their office - a change which is expected to have a longer-term impact on the use of office space

Job satisfaction is high in Northern Ireland with nearly 90% of employees here regarding their work as "meaningful", according to a report.

But 7% of employees were fed up with their work, and 5% felt their work was meaningless, according to the NI Statistics and Research Agency (Nisra).

One human resources expert said involving staff in decision-making was key to ensuring a happy workforce. But only half of those surveyed said they were happy with their level of involvement.

Lynne Rainey of business advisory firm PwC in Belfast said she believed the dramatic changes which the Covid-19 pandemic had brought to organisations had resulted in employees gaining more control over their work.

The pandemic has resulted in vast numbers of people working from home rather than going into their office - a change which is expected to have a longer-term impact on the use of office space.

Nisra's report on the workforce in Northern Ireland said that 96% of employees were in "secure" work - either in permanent roles or in temporary jobs, with no desire to find more permanent work.

And Nisra said that 84% of employees were working the right amount of hours. However, 9% were estimated to be overemployed - where they would accept a lower-paid job if it meant being able to work shorter hours - and 7% were underemployed, and would like to be working longer hours.

Close to 80% reported a job satisfaction rating of satisfied or better, and 86% said that they performed meaningful work.

Just over half were happy with the opportunities for career progression in their work although 26% did not think their jobs offered good opportunities for advancement.

And around half also said that their managers were either good or very good at involving them in decision-making in the workplace - but nearly one in four said management were poor, or very poor, at involving them.

Ms Rainey said giving people the opportunity to play a role in the decision-making process in their work was important in helping to build job satisfaction.

"The problem with top-down management is that it doesn't tap into the full potential of the workforce. The changes that we've experienced through the pandemic, with the need for swifter decision-making and reduced processes, gave people more agency and control - which had been taken away in many other aspects of their life because of Covid."

And she said encouraging staff to take part in volunteering programmes could help make work more meaningful for them.

"Meaningfulness plays a major role in why people choose where they'll work.

"Certainly in the last couple of years, we've seen a big uptake in people engaging in our volunteering programme. For example, we've got almost 100 people working on volunteering projects for the Belfast Black Santa campaign and Meals on Wheels.

"When you connect people's need to be engaged with the ability to do good, you'll create a much more satisfied and effective workforce."

A survey carried out by Belfast Chamber in August found that just 5% of city centre workers were back behind the office desk.

And while more had started to return in late summer, the subsequent tightening-up of Covid-19 restrictions in October resulted in some workers returning to their homes to work.

Organisations such as Belfast Chamber have said towns and cities are losing out on spending by office workers who are choosing to stay at home.

The trend could exacerbate the longer-term challenge to retailers of competing with online shopping as workers who are not travelling into work in towns and cities every day may be more likely to spend money online.

Belfast Telegraph


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