Happiness Morning Future
Guiding Trend 4 September Sep 2019 0727 4 September 2019

Work place satisfaction: location and gender matter

55,3% of Italian workers are satisfied with their jobs, but there are big differences between North and South. Data from the Osservatorio Statistico dei consulenti del lavoro (Statistical Observatory of labor consultants)

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Bolzano does better than Milan, Verona does better than Naples. When talking about satisfaction with workplaces, location matters. This is what comes out of the report focused on work satisfaction presented in June at the Osservatorio Statistico dei consulenti del lavoro (Statistical Observatory of labor consultants), created based on Istat data collected in 2018. In fact, depending on one's place of residence, there are strong differences in terms of satisfaction with one's profession in Italy.

In total, seven indicators were taken into consideration in the research: earnings, climate and work relationships, career opportunities, number of hours worked, job stability, commuting time and interest in the activity carried out. On average, among the data analized by the Osservatorio, 55,3% of Italian workers say they are widely satisfied with their jobs. Among the satisfying factors, the highest ranking is being interested in their tasks, which is on a national level at 63,7%, closely followed by commuting time (62%) and work environment and relationships with co-workers (57,4%). In the last spots, on the other hand, are stability (52,5%), salary (32%) and the chance to progress in a chosen career (28%)

Interesting results, which offer some insight on people's priorities in approaching employment. Although, when separating the variables by geographical location and gender, issues start to appear. «We are often surprised, as not all indicators behave in the same way compared to the national average result», Giuseppe De Blasio, researcher at the Osservatorio statistico dei consulenti del lavoro, explains. So, for example, we find out that people in Asti are much more satisfied with career opportunities (45,9%) compared to Teramo, where only 14,4% feels happy from this perspective. In Sassari, on the other hand, the time it takes to commute generates the greatest level of satisfaction, while in Messina only 37,5% perceive it as an advantage.

«The big urban centers are at the bottom of the ranking as far as the distance between home and work is concerned, while in the south we suffer above all from lower wages», the expert continues. In general, cities in the North rank better in most of the indicators, while those in the South are struggling. Bolzano, in particular, is in first place in almost all variables, from profit to interest and climate and work relationships, from the number of hours worked to stability. An exception rather than a rule, one would say, although it is true that in Bergamo you are more likely to be satisfied than in Caltanissetta, in La Spezia more so than in Bari. But why is there such a difference between the different cities and why, statistically, if we are more satisfied with the relationship with our colleagues, do we also tend to be satisfied with the salary or stability of the place?

«The employment rate is a number that explains this variability, as it identifies a correct allocation of personal expectations with the availability of work», De Blasio explains. «An efficient productive fabric generates better working conditions, therefore it explains this dynamic even better». In other words, where employment is available and flexible, there will be more of a chance to find a satisfying job, and therefore we will more likely declare ourselves satisfied with our work. So much so that «many northern provinces stand out for their employment rate, confirming their place among the better standards in the European labor market».

Although geography is important, of course, it is not the only factor that influences the level of job satisfaction. In fact, there is at least one element that, from North to South, equally influences the relationship with one's work: gender. Being male or female still plays an important role in professional terms: «Certainly in terms to career prospects and remuneration, strong gender imbalance is evident», the expert explains. Inequalities that are manifested widely even in the high rate of satisfaction when commuting times are lower, given that women are still generally responsible for the care of the home and children.

In all likelyhood, one could make many other considerations based on age, work sector, type of contract. According to De Blasio, although the results of this research in particular are not in themselves capable of directing political decisions, it’s certain that they offer a discontinuous national framework, dominated by profound inequalities among workers. This is, once again, the old problem of related to an inefficient labor market, where supply and demand struggle to meet.

Yet, the key factors have been clear for some time: «In all European countries, the satisfaction rate is linked to the employment rate and to welfare levels, that is, the worker's protection in the event of job loss and the possibility of pursuing a career without fear of being marginalized», De Blasio concludes. Of course, the effort towards full employment is not a trivial matter. But if the intent is to resolve the eternal mismatch in the labor market, the actions that need to be taken are always the same: «On the supply side, expansive and investment policies to encourage companies to take on; from the point of view of demand, more adequate training policies».

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