I’m writing this having just returned from visiting Swansea – now officially the fifth-most miserable place in Britain, according to research unveiled at this summer’s Royal Geographical Society conference. Personally I’m not all that surprised. Fond as I am of the city of my birth, I must admit that it does attract more rain than any other city in the country. And in a summer as bad as this one, that’s got to count against you in the happiness stakes.
The least cheerful place was Edinburgh, despite its fringe festival and fancy reputation. The happiest place to live and work was Powys, which gives the Welsh something to smile about (unless they live in Swansea). Employment did feature, but only in a double-negative kind of way: you are less likely to be unhappy being unemployed if you live in an area where lots of other people are unemployed too. I’m not sure that takes us very far, career-wise.
Those readers who aren’t prepared to move to Powys in search of a happy working life may be more interested in a recent report by Benenden Healthcare. It reckons the most miserable career is human resources: 29% of HR people think their work makes them ill, and 56% say they get run down as a result of their jobs. If you want to be fit and well at work, it seems, the answer is to switch to marketing and communications: only one in 10 of them ever attributes ill health to the demands of their work.
Retail would appear to be half way between HR and marketing. About one in five retail workers say they get sick thanks to work and one in two get run down. That’s better than manufacturing, where a whopping three quarters of employees feel run down thanks to their jobs, but not as impressive as the hardy legal profession. Although three quarters of lawyers feel run down due to the demands of their jobs, only 10% actually allow this to tip them over into illness. Could that be because so many of them get to charge for their time?
Geography matters too, according to the survey. The Scots are most likely to get ill as a result of their work, while the Welsh are most likely to feel run down.
One in five respondents say they would feel less stressed if they changed jobs. The real wonder is that more of them didn’t show the same level of self-awareness. No job is worth holding on to if it’s making you ill. Much better to retrain and get a nice job as a country solicitor. And perhaps move to Powys.
Steve Crabb is editorial director of Coaching at Work Magazine