Throughout 2022, CivicScience data largely showed a two-to-one split in overall job happiness among U.S. workers. Today, just over 70% of workers typically report feeling more happy than unhappy with their jobs, while nearly 30% are more unhappy than happy. The summer saw an increase in job happiness, but it was short-lived and has since fallen back to where things were at the start of 2022.
Job happiness differs drastically by work situation. Remote workers make up a large percentage of the U.S. workforce. Recent data show that 37% of currently employed adults (as of January 1, 2023) are working either fully remote or in a hybrid situation. Yet, these workers are twice as likely as in-person workers to report they feel unhappy in their jobs.
The latest poll results show a total of 38% of hybrid workers and 41% of fully remote workers say they are unhappy to some degree with their current position, compared to just 21% of people working fully in person at an office or location.
This is nothing new. Last February, 42% of all remote workers (both fully remote and hybrid) said they were unhappy in their jobs, compared to just 21% of in-person workers. The playing field narrowed a bit by August – falling to 31% for hybrid workers and 37% for fully remote workers, while largely staying the same for in-person workers – before returning to early 2022 levels. Perhaps summer vacations helped to temporarily boost job satisfaction among remote employees.
Comparatively, fully remote workers are less happy in their jobs than hybrid workers, although not by much. But fully remote workers are also more likely than hybrid workers to be ‘very happy,’ suggesting that slightly more employees are thriving in fully remote work situations than in hybrid versions. However, the high rates of job dissatisfaction among both types of remote workers call into question the benefits of “flexible” work that is so highly sought after by Americans, as shown in recent CivicScience data.
What’s Behind the Numbers?
Here are five key insights about remote workers:
- Job happiness is strongly tied to age. Young remote workers continue to be the most dissatisfied with their jobs (as seen in the February 2022 report). Current data show that 62% of Gen Z adults (18-24) and 49% of young Millennials (25-34) working remotely are unhappy in their jobs, with fully remote workers more unhappy than hybrid workers. Conversely, 80% of Baby Boomers (55+) working remotely are happy in their jobs and just 20% are unhappy.
- Remote workers report a worse work/life balance. For example, they are less likely to call off sick from work.
- They are more concerned about their employment – they’re more concerned with being laid off in the coming months and express greater concern in general about their jobs.
- They are more likely to feel that they do not belong to a social group.
- Financially, remote workers are more likely to be better off than before the pandemic, compared to in-person workers. However, they are more likely to earn less annually.
What Do Remote Workers Want?
Recent poll results hint at what might increase job satisfaction for remote workers. Among those currently job searching or planning to search for a new job, 39% of remote workers are driven first and foremost by income. Interestingly, 1-in-5 remote workers say heightened job flexibility is their top reason for pursuing a new position.
Also, remote workers are nearly four times more likely than in-person workers to want greater job security, but less likely to be motivated by job benefits and career growth.
Ultimately, job happiness for young remote workers isn’t improving, which goes without saying, could have major implications for the workforce. Deeper explorations are needed, such as what job flexibility actually means to remote workers.
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