Global Workforce Happiness Index

Which Country Has the Happiest and Most Loyal Workforce in the World?

 Universum presents the Global Workforce Happiness Index

What motivates young professionals the most to leave one employer for another? And why does talent in one country appear to be happier and more loyal that of its neighbor? Universum has completed one of its largest studies to date, this time concentrating on establishing which country has the most satisfied and loyal workerforce in the world. More than 200,000 young professionals in 57 markets participated in the survey for this research, which was carried between September 2015 and September 2016.

This year’s Global Workforce Happiness Index, shows it’s time to take a data-driven approach to attracting and retaining your top talent. The results deliver benchmarks for employee happiness and loyalty, allowing us to analyze its impact on innovation and growth, and provide a way for companies to plan improvements. The ability to retain experienced talent is no longer a matter of employee satisfaction alone; it is also tied to how employees compare to their peers in other organizations. This research has found that a negative gap between peers from one company to the next is often a signal that less satisfied employees will be much easier to persuade to leave one company for a competitor.

“Employee happiness is crucial for retaining good talent as well as having a motivated workforce that delivers great results and continuously innovates. If the young professionals in an economy show low levels of discontent, this is a good sign for the economy as whole.  

The happiness index is an indicator for employers to understand the broader context they are operating in, helping them understand where they need to emphasize aspects of work culture to attract or retain talent. 

In most countries, the main drivers for job change are better compensation & benefits and better opportunities for advancement. This is independent from the level of workforce happiness. A striking finding is that in the countries that where young professionals are less happy, an important driver is professional development and learning opportunities, while in the happier countries, improved work-life balance is a top-driver”.

Universum Research Project Manager, Daniel Eckert


The participants in the survey were segmented into four cohorts:

  • Young female professionals
  • Young male professionals
  • Young professionals with a background in STEM
  • Young professionals with a background in business.

The Global Workforce Happiness Index uses a scoring system that tracks three factors:

  •  Employee satisfaction
  •  An employee’s willingness to recommend a current employer
  • An employee’s likelihood to switch jobs in the near future (2-4 years)

The responses to the first two factors are scored based on a scale from 0 to 10, whilst the responses to the third come in the form of “Yes” and “No”. At the core of the study is the Happiness Quadrant, which depicts challenges and opportunities by region across four basic categories of satisfaction. But the real value of this research is in the granular findings by country, equipping employers to diagnose problems at the local level and respond with targeted solutions.

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If we analyze this quadrant by region the work forces from the Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) show the highest levels of satisfaction with their current jobs and with the exception of Finland, as whole the work forces in this part of the world show little inclination to switch employers.

Compared with the Nordics, Latin American countries including Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Peru show great levels of satisfaction at work but their loyalty levels suggest they will be likely to change employer in the next couple of years. The exception to this is of course Costa Rica, which not only has a very happy workforce but employees who are likely to stay in their current jobs longer than the rest of their Latin American counterparts.

Other countries that stand out are Japan and Algeria who’s workforce’s show high levels of discontent in their current roles but are among some of the work forces that are least like to change employers in the next 2-4 years. Japan’s workforce especially seems to be holding on to the idea of one “employer for life”, which most work forces, especially those in Western Europe dismissed over 20 years ago.




The quadrant representing the Happiness Index vs GDP per Capita Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), shows that the more wealth there is in a country the higher that country’s score will be. There are however exceptions to this general trend, Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE being the prime examples of countries where the GDP is very high but their work forces still remain at the lower end of the Happiness Index.

Similar to the first quadrant above, we see similar regional clusters forming, with African work forces gathering at one end of the quadrant, Latin American countries in another (again with the exception of Costa Rica) and the Nordics and other Western European countries forming their own assemblies.




The quadrant representing the Happiness Index vs Women’s Labor Force Participation demonstrates that there is a clear pattern between the happiness of female employees against how many women there are in a labor market.  Gender equal countries and regions where women participate more in the labor force like Western Europe, have much happier female work forces than parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East which are currently not performing so well.

This is not to say that all countries scoring low in this quadrant aren’t catching up, India is a prime example of a country which is catching up quickly by creating opportunities and is seeing the female participation in labor market is increase steadily year upon year.

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