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Canadian workers top global job satisfaction survey

Office workers walk during morning peak hour in central Sydney October28, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files

Despite all the complaining we do about work, Canadians are the happiest employees in the world and some would even do their job for free, says a new report.

Compared to our peers in the U.S. and across Europe and India, Canadians are most likely to love their job, or at least like it, says the survey conducted by global research firm GfK and job-search site Monster.ca.

Almost two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) love or like their job and 24 per cent would do the work for free. Only 7 per cent of Canadians hated their job, feeling they could do better or found it to be a necessary evil to pay the bills.

The figures are surprising on one hand, given that Canadians have among the lowest level of mandatory paid vacation in the world at just two weeks. On the other hand, the numbers reflect the changing workforce demographics, where more Baby Boomers are staying in their roles past retirement. While some have no choice but to keep earning money, others simply prefer their profession to spending days playing bridge or swinging clubs on the golf course.

Unhappy youth

Young people are most unhappy at work, which is obvious to anyone who has received an eye roll from a 20-something, or tried to get their attention over a set of earphones. The survey says 13 per cent of people under age 25 don’t like their work.

"Young Canadians are ambitious and eager-to-succeed, so it's not surprising that a significant proportion of them are feeling frustrated in their current jobs and think they can do better,” said Sheryl Boswell of Monster.ca.

Still, many young people know they’re lucky to have a job today given high youth unemployment rates. A lot of young people are also happy to take whatever position they can find to pay off huge student loans.

It’s a right of passage and shouldn’t last forever, suggests the survey.

“The further the Canadians progress in their careers the more likely they are to align themselves with their career passions,” says the report, noting that the percentage of workers that liked their employment gigs grew as they aged.

Other happy employees can be found in the Netherlands, where 57 per cent of workers are happy at work, followed by India at 55 per cent, the United Kingdom at 46 per cent and France and Germany at 43 and 34 per cent, respectively.

It’s unclear why Europeans hate work so much, given they have the greatest vacation allotments in the world, at about six weeks. However, the region has just come out of a nasty recession and hanging on to any job, no matter how awful, was considered wise.

The Canadian job-satisfaction figures compares to 53 per cent of Americans who like their jobs and 15 per cent who don’t. Americans get no mandatory vacation time, which leaves little room for perspective that a few days away from the job can sometimes bring.

Money does buy happiness

Money also helped improve job satisfaction in Canada.

The survey says 70 per cent of workers that earned more than $70,000 per year are happy at work. The number drops to 55 per cent for medium-income earners (between $40,000 and $70,000), and down to 44 per cent for people who earn between $10,000 and $40,000.

"Getting a healthy pay cheque is a primary motivation for work, and being well-compensated lends itself to contentment," says Boswell.

Still, she argues Canadians shouldn’t stay in a job they don’t like and should starting looking for a new one. Enter pitch to find a new job on the Monster site.

Canadians and their jobs

Here’s what Canadian said when asked how they felt about their current job:

  • 24 per cent – Love it. Would do for free
  • 40 per cent – Like it a lot. Could like it more
  • 29 per cent – Like it. Good enough for now
  • 5 per cent – Don’t like it. Could do better
  • 2 per cent – Hate it. Necessary evil.