The Chamber of Employees (Chambre des Salariés) since 2012 has been carrying out an annual Quality of Work survey that aims to assess worker well-being and job satisfaction in the country.
“Sadly, the development has been going in the wrong direction for a long time,” said chamber president Nora Back during a press conference on Thursday. And while the pandemic hasn’t helped, the index was already declining before.
From a score of 56.2 out of 100 in 2014, the Quality of Work index fell to 53.9 points last year. It was lower among single parents (50 points) but significantly higher among executives (59.6 points).
Over the last years, respondents to the survey in rising numbers have said they face a greater mental burden from work, are expected to work longer hours and face more time pressure. At the same time, they report less autonomy, feedback, cooperation and participation in the workplace.
Salary satisfaction fell from 59.4 points in 2014 to 55.1 last year. And while 24% of respondents said they’re planning on changing jobs--up from 19% in 2020--actually doing so has become more difficult over time, the index found.
On the whole, people working from home were happier with their jobs, with the index steady at around 56 points since 2017. However, for people going to work, satisfaction dropped from 55.9 points in 2017 to 52 in both 2020 and 2021.
More than a quarter of employees (28%) worked from home daily or several days a week, the survey found, with another 12% working remotely several times per month. But this also means that 60% of staff rarely or never telework.
For example, while 61% of so-called “intellectual and scientific professions” said they worked from home last year, this rate was at just 6% for essential workers and even lower among other manual labour jobs.
But remote working came with its own challenges for employees. For example, just over half of survey respondents said that they struggle to separate their private and working lives when teleworking and 18% said they often juggle professional and private tasks at the same time.
Around a third of people said they prefer working from the office, while 39% strongly agreed that they prefer working from home and 30% being more or less indifferent.
“Morale didn’t improve in 2021; it rather became worse,” said David Büchel, a workplace psychologist at the chamber.
Companies should innovate
If companies want to attract and retain talent, they must innovate, he said. “Work-life balance has become more important.” But he also warned that companies shouldn’t wait for laws to change to change their corporate culture.
While Luxembourg is yet to transpose an EU directive on work-life balance or pass a law on the right to disconnect, Büchel said that companies themselves can make sure that employees aren’t expected to work outside of hours, provide mental health support or strengthen gender balance and diversity.
A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into the Great Resignation, seeing millions of Americans leave their jobs during the pandemic, found that toxic culture, job insecurity, failure to recognise performance and a poor covid-19 response drove departures.
“It’s an appeal to policymakers and employers to ensure that people are feeling well at work,” said Back. “In addition to working conditions and salaries, the quality of work is important.”
Reducing working hours remains one of the chamber’s key demands, Back said. Dozens of companies in the UK on Monday began a pilot programme of a four-day working week. A similar programme in Iceland that began in 2019 was an “overwhelming success”, researchers at think-thanks Alda and Autonomy said in an analysis. Sweden, too, trialled a six-hour working day.
“Their economies didn’t collapse,” she said of the countries who trialled the measure while upholding salaries.