South African employees have an above average ‘Happiness at Work (H@W)’ rating, according to data from the iOpener Institute for People and Performance. South African employees are particularly positive about the impact and meaning of their work.
They are however less positive about job security and resilience, but even these scores are marginally above average.
“South Africahas one of the highest unemployment rates in the world,” says Katie Demain, consultant at Stoke which represents the iOpener Institute inSouth Africa. “So it makes sense that those who are gainfully employed are grateful to be so and make the most of the opportunity. And those who are not employed or employable have a very different outlook on and experience of life.”
The iOpener Institute has compiled a global database of over 14 000 employees, measuring the various factors that make up their Happiness at Work. Around 1 000 South Africans have responded to the survey. The iOpener Institute’s questionnaire, the iPPQ, measures five components of Happiness at Work:
Contribution – the effort an individual or team makes
Conviction – short-term motivation
Culture – a feeling of fit at work
Commitment – long-term engagement
Confidence – the belief in one’s abilities
“South Africans score above average on all five components,” says Tracey Proudfoot, director at Stoke. “The highest isCommitment (6.24 out of 10), indicating a strong long-term engagement with their work. South African workers score lowest on Contribution (5.47 out of 10), meaning they feel less positive about the effort they make, but they still score above average globally in this regard.”
The three items on which South African workers score highest are feelings of doing something worthwhile (6.91 out of 10), having a positive impact on the world (6.75 out of 10), and liking their job (6.65 out of 10). This suggests a strong ability to find meaning in their careers.
Three items in which South African workers score lowest are resilience (5.12 out of 10), respect for one’s boss (5.30 out of 10), and feelings of job security (5.32 out of 10). These scores are all still slightly above average, but fall behind other contributors to South African employees’ Happiness @ Work levels.
A can do attitude
“H@W specifically is very tangible subject,” says Proudfoot. “We know from our six years of worldwide research that there are 25 tangible items that make people happier or unhappier at work that also predict their performance and success. We can also see that those who are in formal employment inS.A.have a sense of being privileged and that they more readily take personal responsibility for their own success.”
According to Demain, South Africans have a ‘can do’ attitude, and combine this with ‘job-crafting’ which is about making their positions suit their preferences instead of resigning from that position. “Their work ethic is well known globally and, as a nationality, South Africans are a resilient collective of people who manage organisational change and people dynamics at work quite well,” she says. “Common traits that can be found in South African employees are that they are entrepreneurial and able to cope with overcoming daily challenges and difficulties.”