Norwegians tend to like their jobs

November 7, 2017 - 06:20

A common complaint in Norway is that the climate at the workplace has grown harsher. A new study, however, indicates that most Norwegians enjoy their jobs more than the average European.

The work force in Norway is met with high demands but most employees are content with their jobs. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Around 94 percent of the workforce in Norway is satisfied with working conditions, as compared to 86 percent in the EU. This puts Norway at the top of the heap regarding job satisfaction. The other Nordic countries also score highly in this respect.

Most Norwegian employees think the organisation or firm they work in motivates them to do a good job.

This is seen in the results of a European work environment survey which Norway participated in four times from 2000 to 2015. The National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI) recently presented the latest figures. Norway is closely affiliated with the EU as part of the European Economic Area, but not an EU state.

Frequent changes

Norwegian employees experience a rapider pace of changes at the place of work than do other Europeans. 

Nevertheless, most are happy with their jobs. A large share of those who participated in the survey say they were given a voice in the matter when modifications were made in the organisation of their jobs. They feel they are involved in developing their own workplace. 

More Norwegian than EU-country employees think their jobs are growing more demanding and work is becoming more intensive. At the same time, nine out of ten report having self-determination in their jobs. That share who experience a degree of autonomy has increased in the past few years. 

Taking Fridays off?

Long work weeks are not particularly common in Norway. About eight percent inform that they work 45 hours a week or more. Fifteen percent in the EU countries say the same.

Nevertheless, long workdays are more common in Norway than the rest of Europe. Over a third – 34 percent – report working 10 hours or more as frequently as 10 days a month, as compared to 18 percent in the EU.

Such long days of work are not reflected in the total hours worked per week. The Norwegian work week is just 35 hours, on average. Men work slightly shorter work weeks than they used to, whereas women work a tad longer.  

“Perhaps many are working more the first days of the week and taking Fridays off,” suggested Cecilie Aagestad at STAMI when commenting the apparent contradiction between long workdays and short work weeks as she and her colleagues presented the report.

Flexible working hours are much more common in Norway than they are further south in Europe.

Balance of work and leisure time

The survey asked employees whether they are plagued during their leisure time by job-related worries and problems, whether they were too exhausted to do tasks at home after work or if such job problems detracted from their time with their families. Norway came out on top of all the other European countries in the study in this respect. Nine out of ten are satisfied with the balance between work and private life. 

Aagestad said the combination of jobs and private life seems to be much better organised in Norway than in most EU countries.

Norwegians in the workforce generally have a better assessment of their psycho-social work environment than their counterparts in Europe as a whole. More think they have greater on-the-job opportunities for developing their professional skills and fewer fear losing their jobs within the next six months. 

A total of 40 percent of the Norwegian workforce have what researchers call a “positive demanding work situation”. This entails ample opportunities for developing oneself and a high degree of co-determination. Norway came in third in this ranking, behind Luxembourg and Denmark.

In Norway, as with the rest of Europe, employees with longer educations are primarily the ones with such proficiency boosting and democratic work situations. 

Not everything is rosy in Norway

Norway stands out against in comparison with Europe as a whole regarding its large share of jobs in professions demanding a higher education. The country also has a proportionally larger number who work in health care and social services. Norway has fewer part-time employees and fewer who are jobless.

This does not mean that all is sterling at the workplace. Eight percent assert that their work situation is fatiguing or problematic. In this regard, they say their wages are low and the opportunities to develop themselves are scant. The average number making such complaints in Europe is 19 percent of the workforce.

Most of those with such complaints have minimal educations and are under the age of 35.

Norwegian employees experience more humiliating behaviour on the job than is found in the EU average. Another alarming statistic: Women are more exposed to threats and humiliating behaviour, including sexual harassment.

Although Norwegian employees are amongst the most satisfied with their jobs in Europe and eight out of ten say their health is good, Norwegians take the most leaves of absence on the grounds of sickness in Europe.

That said, Norwegian employees are less likely than their counterparts elsewhere in Europe to claim their jobs have a negative impact on their health.

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Read the Norwegian version of this article at forskning.no

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Translated by
Glenn Ostling