Are you unhappy at work? ⏲️ 6 Minute English


Hello. This is Six Minute English

from BBC Learning English.

I'm Neil. And I'm Beth.

Have you ever had a horrible boss, not been paid enough

or simply got tired of doing the same old boring jobs?

I love presenting Six Minute

English, of course, but

some of my previous jobs have been pretty awful, Neil.

When I waitressed in cafes,

I was on my feet ten hours a day.

It was exhausting!

Most people have had bad work experiences

at one time or another. Maybe a job

that was boring, badly paid or just working too much

and getting burned outlacking energy or enthusiasm

because of working too hard.

But does it have to be like this?

Since most of our waking day is spent at work,

how can we make sure our job doesn't make us unhappy?

That's what we'll be discussing in this programme

and, as usual, we'll be learning

some useful new vocabulary as well.

Sounds good, Beth, but first

I have a question for you. The worst job

I ever had was the summer

I spent working as a portable toilet cleaner at music festivals.

But, according to a recent survey by Forbes Magazine,

what was voted the worst job in the UK? Was it:

A. a call centre worker?

B. a bartender? or C. a traffic warden?

I think the answer might be a call centre worker.

OK, Beth. I'll reveal the answer later in the programme.

Now, it's interesting that survey was carried out in the UK

because being unhappy at work could be related

to the British working culture which emphasises working at a fast pace.

Here's Damian Grimshaw, a professor of Employment

Studies at King's College London speaking with BBC

Radio 4 programme, Analysis.

Really it's all about pace, cost efficiencies, meeting targets

and deadlines. So, this is why, when people do surveys of

what we call 'work intensity', so how hard you work

are you driven on pace?, is there a supervisor breathing down your neck?,

we score really badly compared to European countries.

Compared to some European countries

British workers have to meet more targets and deadlinesa time or date

by which a particular job must be finished. The pressure to

work quickly means you might have your boss breathing down your neck

an idiom meaning that someone is watching you very closely

and checking everything you donot a nice feeling to have at work.

That's right. A good job is about more than pay and conditions.

It's one that uses your talents and gives you some choice

over how and when you work. In 2022, Britain's biggest employer,

the National Health Service, or NHS, lost more than 15,000 nurses,

many quitting because of the long and inflexible working hours.

Another sector with long working hours is

the construction industry. Low paid, dirty and physically demanding

construction workers also risk high levels of work-related injury.

Here, Emma Stewart, co-founder of social business,

Time Wise, tells BBC's Radio 4 programme, Analysis,

about her trial project to help builders enjoy their jobs more.

In the work that we've done within the

construction industry, we have trialled

what we would call an output-based way of working,

which means we shift away from the sense of presenteeism,

this sense of: you are paid by the day,

you are on site from seven in the morning

until the last person leaves, maybe seven in the evening...

to a task-based way of working, which means you're going to do five tasks

over the course of this day, when you've done those tasks,

and you've done them well, you can go home,

but we will still pay you the same amount for the day.

They were able to deliver the projects that we worked on with them

on time, on budget,

but, critically, the feedback from workers was

that work-life balance scores doubled and they were able to reduce the amount

of overtime that they did. It's a win-win.

Emma describes the current working

patterns using the word presenteeismstaying at work longer than usual

or going to work when you're ill to show that you work hard,

but this isn't an effective way to work.

Emma thinks a task-based approach is better both at getting the job done

and for improving work-life balancethe amount of time you spend at work,

compared with the amount of time you spend relaxing with your family

and doing things you enjoy. In other words,

flexible working is a win-wina situation

that's good for everyone involved.

Maybe more flexible working would help some of the jobs

I mentioned earlier in my question, Beth.

According to a recent Forbes magazine survey,

what was voted the worst job in the UK?

I guessed it was a job I've done myself

working in a call centre. That was... the correct answer!

Although I think my summer job cleaning toilets was even worse.

Right, let's recap the vocabulary

we've learned from this programme,

starting with burnoutlack of energy or enthusiasm

because of working too hard. A deadline is the time

by which a particular job must be done.

If someone is breathing down your neck, they're watching you very closely

and checking everything you do. Presenteeism means staying

at work longer than usual to show your employer that you work hard

and are important to them. Work-life balance

is the amount of time you spend doing your job

compared with the amount of time you spend doing things you enjoy.

And finally, a win-win is a situation or result

that is good for everyone.

Once again, our six minutes are up.

Join us again next time, but for now,

get back to work! Goodbye. Bye.