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"As I look back on my life, I realise that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being redirected to something better" - Vala Afshar, July 2020

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Has COVID-19 given us a new perspective on the value of work?

The global pandemic has had a huge impact on our working lives. It has forced many of us to consider just how much we value our work and how much we enjoy our current jobs - if we enjoy them at all!

The boundaries between work life and home life have been blurred by the lockdown, and it can be difficult to strike the correct balance. Most types of work, while important, are not as important as feeling the fulfilment of one's family, hobbies and the home itself. This leads to one question:

Do you really enjoy your work?

Many supposedly 'low-skilled' jobs have recently gained an air of heightened importance - perhaps even prestige. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, the UK government recognised cleaners, delivery drivers, retail staff and so on as 'Key Workers' and acknowledged that the country would grind to a halt without their continued efforts.

This 'Key Worker' label means a great deal to many and has generated some well-earned respect for professionals whom we too often forget. But being 'key' does not always mean making a good salary, even though many of these people have recently been working longer hours in extraordinarily stressful circumstances.

And amid all the current chaos, it's easy to forget reports from recent years suggesting that workplace morale is very low in general - for instance, a 2017 Gallup poll reported that 87% of workers in the UK felt disengaged in their job.

Still, with more people working from home lately, we now seem to be collectively appreciating the value of work and recognising that it does play a crucial role in our wellbeing. We can be happy in our work as long as the job is enjoyable, rewarding and reasonably secure.

What job will make you happiest?

The economic slump that will surely follow this pandemic is likely to see many workers looking for new roles that offer the right amount of job security and longevity. A lot of people are already seeking a new purpose in life; finding the 'right' career is paramount for one's personal identity, but happiness is the key factor for most of us.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important is to have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs, 2005

So what's the secret to professional happiness? A survey commissioned back in 2018 by Boundless found that Britain's plumbers are the happiest professionals in the country, with 55% of plumbers saying they were 'very happy' in life.

The survey was designed to uncover who is happy, both at home and at work, and what makes them feel good about themselves and their lives. Plumbers ranked highly in the survey for quality of sleep and physical activity. Not a single plumber said they were 'unhappy' in their job. Compare this to those who work in customer service, and to lawyers, police officers and chefs, all of whom were reported as being unhappy in their work.

Electricians, at 50%, were also one of the happiest groups, with tradespeople in general being way ahead in their happiness index. Builders were also high up on the list.

The Boundless job happiness index

Very happy in life:

  1. Plumbers (55%)
  2. Builders (38%)
  3. Marketing (36%)
  4. Taxi & Lorry Drivers (32%)
  5. Bankers (32%)
  6. Doctors (31%)

[Source]

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