Angry, stressed and worried. The utter state of the UK workforce in 2023

Gallup has published its 2023 Gallup Global Emotions report [registration]  – a study of employee sentiment in the UK workforceGallup has published its 2023 Gallup Global Emotions report [registration]  – a study of employee sentiment in the UK workforce. According to the report’s Negative Experience Index, which tracks how many people experience daily sadness, anger, stress, worry, and physical pain, full-time UK employees are experiencing historically high levels of daily negative experiences. This latest Gallup data claims that full-time UK employees scored a 32 on Gallup’s Negative Experience Index. This is up substantially from 23 in 2020. Full-time employees in the UK are now some of the most emotionally distressed in Europe, second only to employees in Malta.

UK employees have contended with massive workplace disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a cost-of-living crisis sparked by energy prices related to the war in Ukraine, and years of political upheaval due to Brexit and frequent prime ministerial turnover. The perceived standard of living trend, which had been on the rise since 2018, has reversed. The result is that UK workers are more pessimistic about living standards than at any point since 2009.

What’s more, nearly all UK workers are not enthused by their work and workplace. According to Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workplace report, the UK rate of engagement at work (10 percent) remains one of the lowest in Europe, ranking near the bottom among peer countries (33 out of 38) with countries like the US reporting triple the number of engaged employees (31 percent). The poor state of disengaged workforces is not unique to the UK, with just 13 percent of employees across Europe feeling engaged at work, and the lowest rates of engagement were reported in France (7 percent) and Italy (5 percent).

“With employee engagement and worker wellbeing at an all-time low, companies need to act fast to address their emotional economy, where employees’ emotions strongly influence productivity, performance, sustainability and growth,” commented Jeremie Brecheisen, Partner and Managing Director of The Gallup CHRO Roundtable.While leaders can’t change the external economic or political climate, they can create workplaces where people feel engaged, supported and that they are able to thrive.”



The results in the Gallup Global Emotions report are based on nationally representative, probability-based samples among the adult population, ages 15 and older. The Positive Experience Index and Negative Experience Index are calculated from surveys in 142 countries and areas in 2022. The 2022 results are based on telephone or face-to-face surveys of approximately 1,000 or more respondents. The global estimate includes 2021 data from China. For results based on the total sample of national adults in 2021, the margin of sampling error ranges between ±1.6 and ±5.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error.