IESE Insight
Only 3 out of 10 employees are happy in their work
Las Heras, Mireia; Palet, Gemma; Riera, Gemma
Editor: IESE
Artículo basado en: Excelencia y valores
Año: 2019
Idioma: Spanish


Only 3 out of 10 Spanish workers with permanent contracts feel happy in their work. In fact, more than 80% say they hate or dislike Mondays, and a similar percentage find their workplace stressful. Meanwhile, 6 out of 10 would not recommend their own company to a friend.

These are just some of the worrying findings drawn from a quantitative study by IESE professor Mireia Las Heras and enumerated in a report that aims to promote excellence and values in business organizations.

The report, prepared in collaboration with the Spanish human resources company Eurofirms, evaluates employees' opinions of their working environment. The conclusion: work is not working for the majority.

Among the discouraging data: only 13% of men and 24% of women think their salary is fair, though over 70% claim to give their all to their company.

Room for improvement
Las Heras has based her assessment of organizational quality on the anthropological model of Juan Antonio Pérez López, which determines a company's excellence along three distinct dimensions:

1. Effectiveness: A company's ability to provide a useful product or service for its customers, generate profits for its owners, and consume the minimal amount of resources in doing so.

2. Learning: Is the company capable of providing intellectual, operational and relational resources to develop the capabilities of its staff?

3. Identification: A company's ability to generate commitment to its purpose and mission among its stakeholders.

Based on the variables measured in each of these dimensions, the report concludes that only 28% of the organizations in Spain are considered excellent by their own employees. In other words, just 3 out of 10 consider their company effective (in its use of resources for the good of stakeholders) while promoting learning and a positive identification with corporate goals.

Almost half (48%) of employees rate their company an intermediate score for quality, while 24% consider theirs poor. Organizations with poor ratings are failing to meet the needs of customers and/or employees, with staff feeling that what they contribute is greater than what they receive and that the firm is not contributing positively to society.

What can be done?
The study points out five keys to moving towards excellence.
  • Pay fairly. A salary indicates, among other things, to what extent a company values, respects and trusts its employees and the work they do. It is also a reflection of values.

  • Motivate and provide learning opportunities. People don't just work for money, but to develop their skills and resources. It's important to generate a stimulating and participatory work environment and leadership styles that promote development.

  • Reduce stressors and promote health. Excessive working hours, reduced sleep, a lack of downtime and constant connection all have a huge cost for society, workers and the company.

  • Strengthen identification with the company's purpose and mission. Being in tune with company decisions, policies and values increases worker commitment and motivation.

  • Contribute to society. A company's social value is of growing importance. Younger generations want to contribute to the greater good, and this is amplified by the easy access and spread of information.

Methodology, very briefly
A total of 6,290 responses from Spanish employees in diverse sectors and situations were collected and analyzed.

© IESE Business School - University of Navarra