In the wake of trends like the Great Resignation and “quiet quitting,” it’s hard to imagine most Americans feel satisfied with their jobs. To dig deeper, a recent survey by Preply asked Americans how they’d describe their typical workday—how they feel about their work, their pay, and even their bosses.
In this post, we’ll go over some key findings, including which industries have the happiest workers and where some workplaces could stand to improve.
The Happiest Workers
One of the biggest factors in workplace happiness is the work itself. Typically, the easier the work is, the happier workers are. Of all the workers surveyed, employees in finance were most likely to describe their work as easy.
But the difficulty level isn’t always the determining factor. Some survey respondents enjoy their work even when their jobs are hard. For example, workers in computer and technology were most likely to find their work enjoyable, even though they’re also some of the most likely to feel stressed.
Preply’s findings point to a trend in the American work ethic—that we’re willing to take on stress when we’re doing something we care about, enjoy, or think is meaningful. Jobs in healthcare and social services are undeniably hard, but Americans in these sectors think of their work as some of the most meaningful there is.
But willingness doesn’t always translate to happiness. Preply also found that workers in education, construction, and healthcare typically feel the busiest, with healthcare workers ranking highest in stress.
Does Money Equal Happiness?
The short answer is: yes and no. Americans making $150,000 or more annually were most likely to enjoy their typical workday. But just a step below that, workers in the $100,000 to $149,999 bracket were most likely to describe their day as “annoying.”
It might come down to their roles in the workplace. People making $150,000 or more are more likely to be in leadership positions or even working as their own bosses. They’re either at the top or pretty darn close to it.
Workers in the $100,000 to $149,999 salary range may still be climbing the corporate ladder. They’re working hard and probably have heavy workloads to earn that high salary, but they’re not quite where they want to be yet.
The feedback isn’t much better from Americans in the middle and lower salary ranges. While those in the middle mostly describe their days as busy, Americans making less than $25,000 annually are the most likely to be bored and exhausted at work.
A Better Boss Makes All the Difference
No matter what industry you’re in, relationships are at the core of any workplace. One of the most important workplace relationships is the one we have with our bosses.
Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with a good boss. As many as 1 in 5 Americans have negative things to say about their bosses—that they’re “incompetent,” “absent,” and “demanding,” with “incompetent” being the most common descriptor.
Workers describe good bosses as “kind,” “understanding,” and “friendly.” Working with a good boss can foster a healthier work environment, which generally means more productive, happier employees.
We’ve all dealt with some version of a bad boss—someone who makes you feel like your work is never good enough or like it doesn’t make a difference. It’s discouraging to work for or with someone who doesn’t value what you put in. A good boss not only makes the workplace less stressful but can also make work feel more meaningful.
What you do at work may look different depending on your title and industry, but we all need certain things to thrive. A good boss and a fair wage are good places to start, but how your day-to-day runs can impact how fulfilled you are at work.
While everyone can have a bad day, your typical interactions with management may or may not be a good trade-off for what you do and how much you earn to do it. Finding the right balance between meaningful, fulfilling work and an uplifting work environment can make a real difference to your level of stress and happiness in your industry.