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New Survey Identifies Industries with 'Happiest' Employees

It’s no secret that happiness is important in the workforce—happier employees are more productive and are less likely to look for work elsewhere. In fact, a study to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics, shows that happy workers are 12 percent more productive than those reported as "not happy." With that in mind, a recent survey* conducted on behalf of Rasmussen College set out to find which industries have the most satisfied workers.

The survey took place in early 2014 and asked more than 2,000 workers from a range of different industries whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with their current jobs. Respondents varied in age from 18-55+ but the results of the survey were surprisingly similar.

happiest-industries-survey-chart
Top Industries for Worker Satisfaction

1. Wholesale Trade - 87 percent satisfied

If you ever wonder where the widgets you buy in stores come from, these are the people who make it happen. They solve supply problems for businesses and often earn commission for meeting sales goals, which certainly helps with satisfaction.

2. Legal Services – 83 percent

Lawyers, paralegals, and other workers in the legal service field are largely satisfied with their work. While it may require long hours, the relatively high pay and challenging nature of their work appears to be enough to keep them satisfied.

3. Hospitality – 83 percent

Respondents working in the hospitality field were largely satisfied with their jobs. It appears careers like hotel and restaurant management remain rewarding, despite the demands of patrons.

4. Arts, Entertainment, Sports & Recreation – 82 percent

While positions in this field may not be abundant, the satisfaction is level is understandably high—if you can make a career out of your passion, you’re likely to enjoy it.

5. Banking / Finance / Insurance / Accounting – 79 percent

Respondents working in financial services were also near the top of satisfaction rankings. Workers in this field are typically well compensated and in stable industries, two major factors in worker satisfaction.

6. Government & Civil Service – 79 percent

Budget shortages and subsequent cutbacks have made these jobs harder to land, but those who do work in the government are largely satisfied. These jobs are typically very stable and some are ‘passion’ careers like law enforcement or firefighting.

7. Business / Professional Services / Management Consultancy – 77 percent

Employees in this industry get the satisfaction of tackling large issues at companies and many are well compensated. The work may be challenging, but that could also be part of the appeal.

Satisfaction factors

The majority of jobs in the “high satisfaction” industries require higher education—degree holders generally earn more money than those without. In fact, salary was the top factor for respondents of all ages in determining employee satisfaction.

Other determining factors included job security, work-life balance, flexible hours, location and the ability to do what you love.

The industries with the lowest reported worker satisfaction include automotive (50 percent satisfied), transport / storage / warehousing (55%), charity / non-profit organizations (59 percent), retail (61 percent) and construction (64 percent). Unsurprisingly, most of the jobs in these fields don’t typically require a college degree and workers in these industries typically make lower salaries.

If you're looking for the career path that will make you as happy as you can be, check out Rasmussen College's Career Roadmap.

*Survey conducted by Vision Critical from Feb. 25, 2014 – Mar. 2, 2014. The survey polled 2,003 employed U.S. adults who are members of Vision Critical’s American Community panel. The margin of error—a measure of sampling variability—is +/- 2.2%. Quotas used to ensure a sample representative of the entire working U.S. adult population in terms of age, gender and region. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen College. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

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