City & Guilds released the Career Happiness Index 2012, which offers broad insights into what people in the UK consider to be most important factors contributing to their happiness at work. The study reveals the jobs that make people the happiest and why, painting a picture of a British workforce who want flexibility, reasonable control over their daily duties and the opportunity to use their skills to tackle challenges and gain rewards.

Of the 2,200 workers surveyed, gardeners and florists topped the list of happiest workers with almost nine in ten (87%) saying they were happy in their job. Eighty per cent said it was because they were able to manage their own workload and have autonomy over their schedule and daily tasks, whilst 82% agreed that being able to use and hone their skills every day helped to boost their job satisfaction.

Those who ranked lowest on the Career Happiness Index were bankers (just 44% are happy), IT and data processors (48% happy) and human resources employees (54% happy). Despite the presumption that these professions are often well-paid, these largely desk-based, high pressure jobs don’t provide workers with fulfilment. Of bankers, just 44% claimed they were able to properly use their skills, less than half (45%) believed they were doing something worthwhile and valuable, and a meagre 34% said they could see scope for career progression.

The report also looks at employment status and personal circumstances in order to understand how these can affect a person’s well-being and satisfaction levels at work. Highlights include:

  • Self-employed people are overwhelmingly happier at work (85%).
  • More than four in five (83%) of self-employed people claim they enjoy having a flexible work life and 91% said they like having control over their daily duties.
  • Only a little over half (54%) of those in full-time employment felt their working conditions were flexible and the same proportion felt they were appreciated for their work.
  • Money doesn’t lead to happiness – those earning over £60k are the unhappiest (22%).
  • Older people (those aged fifty-six and above) are slightly happier by 7% (65% compared to 59% of those aged 46-55).