Research into workplace happiness, from, found junior staff members are the least happy within the workforce[1]. At the beginning and end of the work day junior staff members felt more negative about work (24% before work and 22% after work) than any other level of seniority.

Unsurprisingly, and fittingly for Living Wage Week, pay plays a significant part in this: 62% of junior staff feel they deserve to earn a higher wage and 75% want a pay rise. An annual salary on the national minimum wage is as low as £12,649 – worryingly £455 under the national living wage[2].

Another issue for junior staff is the denial of flexible working privileges: 46% believe working from home would improve their happiness but they are not allowed to. When nearly half of junior staff report feeling overworked (46%), flexible working could provide a welcome solution. It may also help to prevent the presenteeism found among junior staff: 64% admit to going into work when they are ill – compared to 47% of senior management and 43% of business owners.

Despite feeling overworked, junior staff admit to not feeling fulfilled (32%) or challenged (29%). They also appear to receive a lack of praise: after monetary rewards (pay rises [75%], bonuses [32%]), ‘flexible hours’ (32%) and ‘a shorter working week’ (25%), junior staff valued ‘more praise’ (23%) as a workplace motivator – more than any other level of seniority.

Peter Ames, Head of Strategy at, has the following to say on the findings: “The fact junior staff are the least happy is alarming but not surprising when you consider they appear to be underpaid, undervalued and denied basic rights such as flexible working.”

“Last year we discovered a very similar phenomenon, that young employees were being overworked, and it appears as if little has changed.”

“Living Wage Week gives employers the ideal impetus to ensure they are paying junior workers a fair wage. However ,perhaps most worrying is the denial of flexible working. While junior staff may expect a lack of experience to result in a slightly lower paycheque – flexible working is a fairly universal right.

“It comes down to trust, I’d suggest that the more you trust employees by allowing things such as flexible working, the more you will get out of them.”