If you could start your dream job tomorrow, what would it be? Maybe that of a millionaire investment banker? Or that of a “demigod dressed in white”? The new work happiness report from Hamburg-based market research company Appinio shows that neither investment bankers nor doctors are among the happiest employees in Germany.

Overall, their data shows that a high salary makes people happy. However, employees only considered themselves happy when they combined a relatively high salary with meaningful work, a lot of individual freedom and good colleagues.

The tech industry is home to the happiest workers

According to the report, it is precisely this combination of happiness factors that the technology industry offers above average. For example, anyone who works as a software engineer at a large technology company earns above-average salaries and enjoys flexible work schedules and creative freedom. If the chemistry in the work team is adequate, there is a high level of subjective happiness, as demonstrated by the results of the study.

But it wasn't just in the tech industry where employees were unexpectedly happy. Of the 1,000 workers aged 18 to 65 surveyed, three in four said they were in the top half of a happiness scale of one to ten.

On average, respondents' work happiness was 6.9, 0.2 points higher than the previous year.

A bad boss usually affects happiness at work

Respondents' happiness at work was most often reduced by poor leadership (56 percent). A poor team culture was also often the reason for a lower sense of happiness (48 percent).

Employees in the healthcare and financial sectors had a low average level of happiness, mainly due to rigid structures and lack of flexibility. Nearly three in four respondents across all industries also said they were willing to trade part of their salary for greater happiness at work (73 percent).

The study has weaknesses

The study only examined the happiness of office workers. Since people who physically work often receive lower wages, it is possible that a significantly smaller proportion of the entire workforce is willing to trade pay for happiness than the study results suggest.

According to a study by the Federal Institute for Safety and Health at Work (BAuA), in 2018 one in four German employees considered themselves a physically hard worker.

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