Global study finds most workers love what they do

Work is at the center of people’s lives. By some estimates, that’s what the average person will spend almost a third of their life doing. But do they appreciate the work they do every day?

An annual global wellbeing survey, conducted in 2021 in partnership with the Wellbeing for Planet Earth Foundation, reveals that for the majority of workers around the world, the answer is β€œyes”.

Pleasure at work is globally high

Many factors determine whether people enjoy the work they do, including the tasks they do, the relationships they have, and the meaning they see in it.

Job enjoyment also measures something different compared to more traditional metrics such as job satisfaction and employee engagement. Although these are related, pleasure is specifically how someone feels at work; satisfaction is how satisfied they are; and engagement is the degree of involvement and enthusiasm with their workplace. Overall, this measure contributes to our understanding of employee well-being and how they feel about their work environment.

The survey reveals that, on average, more than eight in 10 people worldwide who work full-time or part-time, for an employer or for themselves, said they enjoy their job. This percentage did not drop below 50% in any country. Moreover, in 34 countries, at least 90% of workers can answer yes to this question.


The gulf between the highest and lowest countries reveals inequalities

Many of the countries where the most workers enjoy what they do – with at least 94% of people saying they feel that way about their work – also have some of the highest scores on Gallup’s Positive Experiences Index. For example, El Salvador, where 97% of workers say they love their jobs, also ranks among the top five countries with the most positive daily experiences.

Although at least half of workers in countries at the bottom of the global list say they like what they do, at least one in three workers in these countries do not. Afghanistan (56%) and Lebanon (53%), two countries in severe crisis that also have the highest scores on Gallup’s 2021 Negative Experience Index, reported the lowest job satisfaction, with almost one in two workers who do not appreciate the work they do.

The similarities between high job enjoyment and positive experiences, and lower job enjoyment and negative experiences, suggest a relationship between everyday emotional experiences (including enjoyment) and job enjoyment. This suggests that there are cultural differences between countries that also influence the likelihood that an individual will enjoy their job and have positive experiences in their daily life.



Workers who love their jobs rate their lives better

Gallup classifies people as ‘thriving’, ‘struggling’ or ‘painful’, based on how they rate their current and future life on a scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, based on the d Cantril’s self-anchoring effort. Those who rate both their current and future life as 4 or less are classified as suffering. Those who rate their current life at 7 or more and their expected life in five years at 8 or more are classified as prosperous.

According to the survey results, people around the world who love their jobs are also more likely to find fulfillment in their lives. In fact, while 37% of workers who enjoy their jobs rate their lives positively enough to be considered successful, 21% of workers who don’t enjoy their jobs rate their lives the same way – a gap of 16 points. percentage.

Conversely, workers who dislike their jobs are twice as likely to suffer (17%) as workers who like their jobs (8%). This difference illustrates how important it is for individuals to appreciate their work.


This finding adds to research indicating that work plays an important role in evaluating an individual’s life. Well-being is a multidimensional concept, and the relationship between job enjoyment or job satisfaction and life satisfaction is complex.

If pleasure at work is only one parameter of a good life, its influence on health and well-being has long been demonstrated. Given the amount of time people spend at it, work can quickly become a lifelong burden when they lose interest and motivation. Conversely, when an individual is passionate about their work, feels valued, and finds friendships, these positive feelings can color their outlook on life more generally.


Fun at work offers organizations, governments and other stakeholders a way to measure the positive feelings workers have about the work they do. This measure adds to the existing body of research on metrics such as job satisfaction and employee engagement, which are strongly linked to higher productivity and better results.

A better understanding of the relationship between work enjoyment and life satisfaction can inform the design of better workplaces. As the data on enjoyment illustrate, workers who reported enjoying their jobs were also more likely to be fulfilled and less likely to struggle or suffer. This adds to the body of research that a good job is the foundation of a life well lived and can improve all aspects of well-being.


Benedict Clouet is a senior consultant at Gallup.

Dr. Alden Lai is Executive Advisor to the Wellbeing for Planet Earth Foundation and WPE Lead for the Global Wellbeing Initiative. Lai is also an assistant professor of public health policy and management at the School of Global Public Health and an affiliate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

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