Sufficiently long vacation makes happy

Doctor's visits or appointments with authorities instead of relaxing

Nearly a quarter of all people in employment say that their annual leave is too short for them to recover from work. This has a negative impact on work satisfaction.

Nearly 25 percent of Austrians never have sufficient time off work to relax and recover from the stress of their jobs. People working in commerce and health professions in particular find they are unable to unwind and truly relax on vacation. 

Insufficient recovery 

And then there are people who cannot take all the vacation they are entitled to, either because their workload is too high or because of operational circumstances. This group, too, is unable to relax properly during their holidays. Besides low income or high stress, lack of recovery time also pushes down the general satisfaction rate: People who are able to recover during their annual leave reach a work climate index rate of 109 points, while the rate for those who cannot is only 92 index points.

Workload too high

Nearly ten percent of respondents say that they cannot use up their full annual vacation entitlement of five or six weeks. Two thirds of these people blame their heavy workloads for this situation.

Over the past two years, every fifth employee had to postpone his or her scheduled vacation that had already been agreed with the supervisor, because there was too much work or because the employer requested a postponement. The situation was worst in the transportation industry where about one third of the employees had to change their vacation plans.

Vacation to see a doctor

Many people must use some of their vacation time for purposes other than relaxing: for medical treatment, recovery from illness or for taking care of children. Women are again most affected by this situation. Every fifth employee had to take at least one day off in the past two years to get administrative matters sorted.

 And even when everything works out in terms of holiday plans and a well-deserved vacation, many people are still unable to unwind, and their employers can reach them even on vacation. Only fifty percent refuse to pick up the phone when they see that it's their employer calling. 25 percent of working people even explicitly consent to their employer contacting them while they are on vacation. One out of seven people uses his or her company phone to call the boss or colleagues and to check work e-mails while on vacation. So much for relaxation.


Many have given up

An ever increasing portion of the workforce is pessimistic about the economic development of Austria, the job market and their own opportunities in the working world.

The Work Climate Index dropped by two points within a single year. Currently it stands at 105 points – the lowest value since twelve years. The Work Climate Index has been kept for nearly two decades and has only been as low as it is now twice in the past, both times in spring during the years 1999 and 2004 and it was lower four times successively between spring 1997 and autumn 1998. The Work Climate Index figures declined for both women and men and for all age groups.


The decline of the index can be attributed to the general pessimistic mood among the workforce. They are unhappy about the economic development, the labour market situation and their own perspectives: Only 54 percent are optimistic as far as the economic development of the country is concerned (minus nine percentage points since spring 2015). Only 42 percent think their chances on the labour market are good; this is six percentage points less than one year ago. And while 86 percent expect their jobs to be safe, only one in two believes that jobs in Austria in general are safe.

Unhappy about work

There is a connection between increasing resignation about the job and growing pessimism: people who think their job is at stake, expect their opportunities on the job market to decline and are more pessimistic about the economic future of the country. Every third person in employment is dissatisfied or at best only vaguely satisfied with their social security situation. A quarter of all working people are unhappy with the kind of job they have and the work it involves.


Dr. Johann Kalliauer, President of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Labour

AK-Präsident Dr. Johann Kalliauer © -, AK OÖ
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People employed with the same company for 25 years are entitled to a sixth week of vacation per year. Today, hardly anybody stays that long with one and the same company. In 2014, 1.7 million posts were filled with new people, i.e. virtually fifty percent of all jobs. The average term of employment relationships that ended last year was a mere 1.5 years. Women are at a particular disadvantage because they usually interrupt their work life more often.

So it is only fair that all gainfully employed people should be entitled to a sixth week of vacation after 25 years in employment – no matter how many companies they have worked for. This demand of the Chamber of Labour and the trade unions is very popular According to the Work Climate Index survey, 88 percent of the working population wish for a sixth week of vacation for everybody after 25 years of employment.


The Work Climate Index is declining for all education levels

More than half of the respondents – both among university graduates and people with compulsory schooling – are pessimistic about their opportunities in the working world.

What is striking is that the decline of the Work Climate Index is now affecting those groups where the work satisfaction rate was traditionally high. In no other group has the Work Climate Index declined as much as among university graduates. The index figures for people with compulsory schooling only continue to be dramatic – it is a mere 94 points.

Young people are pessimistic

Young and well trained people have an increasingly pessimistic view about their future. One year ago, 56 percent of people under 26 were happy with their career and development opportunities; since then this figure has dropped to 50 percent. Their expectations are as pessimistic as those of people over 45. Among university graduates, the majority (53 percent) is unhappy with their own career and development opportunities. Only 48 percent believe that it will be easy to find a new job if they lose their current one. Last year this figure was at 57 percent. 

Stress is increasing

People with compulsory schooling only have traditionally always been more negative about their career opportunities and options on the labour market. They now see the career situation as getting even worse: currently, only 35 percent believe that it would be easy for them to find a new job if they lose their current one, and only 39 percent are happy with their career opportunities. The physical and psychological strain at work due to bad health conditions and stressful workflows is increasing. All of this resulted in a decline by 3 points of the Work Climate Index for low-skilled workers within just one year.


The views of employees and workers are not given sufficient consideration in economic and socio-political discussion. One reason is that there is supposedly not enough substantiated data. The Austrian Work Climate Index has been providing this data for 18 years now and is a measure and yardstick for economic and social change from the point of view of the workforce. It explores their assessment of society, their workplace, work and their expectations. The Work Climate Index records the subjective dimension and thus contributes to the knowledge of economic developments and their consequences for society.

The Work Climate Index is calculated on the  basis of quarterly surveys conducted among gainfully employed people of Austria. The random sample of some 4,000 interviewees per year is representative so that relevant conclusions can be drawn for the state of all employees and workers. The Work Climate Index is established twice a year ever since spring 1997, and in addition special evaluations are also made.


For current results and background information please refer to, where you will not only find the substantial work climate database that can be used for analysis purposes, but you can also check on your very personal satisfaction index within minutes. The Executives Monitor is also available online and answers the question of the satisfaction rate among Austrian management personnel.


Considerable difference in terms of work satisfaction

Old clichés still hold true: Men are eager to climb the career ladder while women look after children.

The employment rate of women may have increased by nearly ten percent over the past 20 years, but the labour market is still segregated. The satisfaction rate in the individual professions is not so much determined by the share of men or women in the trade, but rather by the working conditions. The satisfaction rate is highest among people working in the IT industry (share of men: 89 %) and among kindergarten teachers (share of women: 97 %). 

The lowest satisfaction rate among men is reported by construction workers, professional drivers and warehousemen. In "female" jobs, textile workers and cleaning personnel are the least happy groups. The reasons for this are physical strain, poor opportunities on the labour market, dissatisfaction with the income and bleak career prospects. 

It is still mostly women who interrupt their careers to look after their children: Only three percent of fathers take paternity leave. Women looking after children also tend to reduce their working hours. Fathers aged between 21 and 35, on the other hand, work significantly more than 40 hours a week; in fact this age group works more hours than any other group on the labour market. This is also the group with the greatest ambition to climb the career ladder.


While women are mainly employed in the service industries, men typically still work in production. The share of male workers is highest among metal workers (97 percent), the military (97 percent), mechanics and electricians (each 96 percent). The trades with the highest share of female workers are kindergarten teacher (96 percent), hairdresser (94 percent) and checkout clerk (91 percent).

Precarious situation

Working hours and income in the classic male professions are higher than in the trades dominated by women. One reason is the high ratio of women who work part-time, which in turn often leads to the precarious financial situations of working women. Every second woman between the age of 31 and 40 says she has to rely on other financial transfer benefits in addition to her income. 28 percent of female checkout clerks and 28 percent of female hairdressers cannot make ends meet with their income alone; the percentage for kindergarten teachers here is 22 percent. This is why so many women are pessimistic about their old-age pension: More than one out of three women working in the textiles or cleaning sectors think they will not be able to get by with their future pension.



Upper Austrian Chamber of Employees

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