Almost 100 British workers took a stand against unhappiness at work in London’s Trafalgar Square today, as a landmark study reveals more than a third of the UK’s workforce is unhappy in their job.

The crowd, comprising workers from 11 different sectors including healthcare, construction and real estate, held balloons to communicate the nation’s feelings towards their jobs using the universal language of emojis.

With just 27% of workers feeling happy at work most of the time, the event acts as a stark warning to both employers and employees of the scale of unhappiness across the UK.

At the lowest end, real estate is the unhappiest industry in the UK, followed by management and consulting and automotive. Education is currently the country’s happiest industry, followed closely by aerospace and defense, and government and public administration.

This data has been released from Indeed’s Work Happiness Score which currently displays data for over 1,800 organisations in the UK across 25 different sectors. It was developed with guidance from Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Professor of Economics at Saïd Business School and Director of the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford University, and Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at University of California.

The score, which has so far had 170,000 UK responses and 6M globally, also considers factors of Belonging; Appreciation; Inclusion; Support; Purpose; Energy; Learning; Achievement; Trust; Flexibility; Compensation; Stress Level; Satisfaction and Manager Support.

Supporting research of 2,000 British employees found the average worker spends a fifth of every year feeling unhappy in their role. More worryingly, one in 10 (11%) even start feeling unhappy less than six months into a new job.

Almost three-quarters (72%) agreed that their workplace unhappiness has negatively impacted their physical and/or mental well-being, with 44% losing sleep and 43% lacking energy. A third (33%) of unhappy workers have consequently experienced physical symptoms, with headaches and migraines (55%) the most common ailment and 53% experiencing insomnia.

But while the pandemic threw the jobs market into disarray, for some it was a time of great realisation. Half of all workers (50%) now feel more motivated to make changes to their career and find more happiness at work, stating that a higher salary (31%), better work-life balance (21%), and more praise and recognition (19%) will be sought out during their job search. In fact, 91% who are planning to leave their current job believe happiness in their next role is important.

LaFawn Davis, Senior Vice President, Environmental, Social & Governance at Indeed said: Happiness should not be a privilege but when it comes to work, it’s a fundamental right. Measuring happiness is key to understanding employee experience and creating happier organisations, which is why Indeed worked with experts to develop the Work Happiness Score. It offers further transparency to help job seekers and employers make better choices and build a better world of work. For employers, this means taking a holistic approach to employee wellbeing, and our Work Happiness Score will make it easier for them to measure drivers of happiness to see where improvements can be made. For jobseekers, the feature provides key insights into work environments where they will be happiest.