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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 00:59 GMT 01:59 UK
Working 'a joy' for most Britons
Dawn and Tim in the BBC's The Office
Some say their most important relationships are at work
Most people in Britain are happy with their lot at work, according to new research.

In a survey of 1,000 people of working age two thirds said they were either satisfied or very satisfied, according to The Work Foundation.

But it estimated that 15% of the working population - or four million workers - are dissatisfied.

About 400,000 "wage slaves" earn less than 16,000 for the longest hours, and income inequality has grown.

In their report, Joy of Work?, the independent research organisation found more than three quarters of workers said they were happy with their life and two thirds felt they had achieved their goals.

On the whole work works
Nick Isles, The Work Foundation
Pay was generally less important to people than the content of the job and fulfilling personal ambitions, it concluded.

Nearly half of those surveyed were very satisfied with their pay and 60% very satisfied with the hours they worked.

And more than 42% believed their most important relationships were at work.

Work is the tool that allows me to enjoy the non-working part of my life
Julie Gooding, Manchester, England

The report's author Nick Isles said: "On the whole work works."

But he said a third of people were still left feeling neutral or unhappy about their lot.


"And this does not include the economically inactive who are marginalized from the economic benefits of a near full employment economy," he said.

He added the unemployed were too often excluded from other facets of the "good life" such as decent housing, access to credit, and access to good public services.

Mr Isles added that it should not be possible that people were working more than 60 hours a week and being paid less than 11,000 a year.

"The government needs to strengthen the mechanisms for inspecting and reporting bad practice in this area," he said.

Other key statistics to come from the report included:

  • More than two million people are "workophiles" who prefer work to home.

  • One in five of those earning 60,000 a year work more than 60 hours a week.

  • More than a third of the UK workforce are looking around for a new job, especially within the younger age groups.

  • About a fifth of respondents are working flexible hours but nearly a quarter plan to in the future.

  • Despite relatively high levels of satisfaction with their job, 61% of people want to work fewer hours.

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