The last 18 months have been a trying time not just for employees but for employers as well. How can you keep employees happy, connected, or productive in the face of changes to work environments? How do you navigate employees’ fears and concerns about job security? 

Over the course of the pandemic, CivicScience has looked into various aspects of this dilemma, from video conferencing software to whether people would move if they never had to physically go to their offices again. But as the pandemic shows signs of abating, it is the perfect time to check in on levels of workers’ overall happiness and job satisfaction. 

Over the last month, nearly half of the Gen Pop 18 and older reports being happy with their current job.

However, that level of happiness has been dropping significantly since the beginning of last year.

While data from month to month shows sporadic jump and dips, ultimately what we see is that job happiness has not just decreased, but it’s reached its lowest point since even before the pandemic, while the number of those who are unhappy in their jobs has commensurately jumped to its highest point. 

Interestingly, levels seemed to be relatively stable during the course of most of the pandemic, and only started jumping (or dropping) in April of this year. Likely not coincidentally, it is at that point that many companies’ efforts to reintroduce in-office work arrangements (and mandates) began becoming publicly discussed. 

As CivicScience has investigated in the past, the overall negative effects of the pandemic have been felt more significantly by women than by men in many ways. And job happiness is no exception. 

Women report less happiness in their jobs, in addition to higher levels of overall unemployment. 

The data show higher-earning households report higher levels of job satisfaction than lower-earning households. These rates of happiness and unhappiness have seen little change since this time last year. Income, apparently, hasn’t affected whether people like or dislike their jobs more or less, indicating other factors about work-life balance must be at play.

It is important to note that levels of unemployment among people earning less than $50K were almost 25% higher in the summer of 2020 than they are now, which may skew reported job happiness both then and now. 

Two areas where job happiness differs are residential status and education. While homeowners and renters are equally as likely to be happy in their jobs, renters are twice as likely to be unhappy. Those still living with their parents are far more likely than even renters to be unhappy with their work. 

This likely indicates a combination of life and economic status that leads to how people perceive work. Level of education bolsters this data, by showing that the higher education someone has received, the more likely they are to be happy with their current work status. 

Adjacently, when we look at whether people have achieved their childhood dream job, a plurality report that they had not, though another 13% are still optimistically working towards that goal.

And while happiness at work is relatively consistent for all groups, it is interesting to see that those still working towards their dream job show the highest levels of unhappiness with their current work (perhaps they are working in a less than ideal scenario with eyes on the future).

As more companies commit to their post-pandemic plans for in-office or remote work, job satisfaction is likely to shift along with it. CivicScience will continue to keep an eye on the sentiments of workers as they continue to adjust to a workplace after COVID.