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November 9, 2011

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UK and Ireland ranked highest on quality of workplace life

Ireland and the UK have topped a table of EU Member States for the quality of life at the workplace.

Researchers from the Centre of Employment Studies in France analysed data from the European Working Conditions Surveys of 1995, 2000 and 2005 on the basis of four indicators of the quality of life at the workplace: physical strenuousness; technical constraints; commercial constraints; and the complexity of work.

They came to the conclusion that between 1995 and 2005 the quality of life at the workplace deteriorated on average in the “old” EU Member States (EU-15).

Although the researchers recorded a decline in the number of industrial jobs, physical strenuousness – including vibrations, noise, extreme temperatures, repetitive movements, etc. – increased, while the intensity of work also grew in terms of technical components (e.g. machine speed) and in commercial terms (e.g. customer demand).

Surprisingly, during the same period, the average degree of complexity of work declined. Considering improved levels of education and the expansion of IT over this period, the researchers had been expecting the European workers surveyed to confirm that their work has become more complex, not less.

Based on their data analysis, the researchers constructed a ranking of European countries based on quality of life at the workplace. Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands make up the top three; for the latter two countries, the low rate of employment in industry could explain the better statistical average.

Workers from the Mediterranean countries, however, enjoy less-favourable working conditions, with the Portuguese and the Greeks bottom of the ranking.

The European Working Conditions Survey is conducted every five years by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, based in Dublin. For the most recent survey, carried out in 2010, some 44,000 workers in 34 European countries were surveyed.

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