First national working conditions survey measures job satisfaction
The first nationally representative working climate survey carried out in Bulgaria at the end of 2010 examined various aspects of job satisfaction, revealing generally middle levels of satisfaction among the respondents with a work climate index value of 50.9 on an increasing scale of 0 to 100. The survey looked at differences in job satisfaction between employees and the self-employed in aspects such as job security, working time, stress and representation.
About the survey
The Bulgarian Working Climate Index study, carried out by Institute for Social and Trade Union Research (ISTUR) and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) in November–December 2010 was the first ever national representative survey of various aspects of job satisfaction in the country.
The term ‘working climate’ brings together all the tangible and intangible prerequisites and conditions under which the workforce carries out its designated activities and functions. The working climate index (WCI) measures the subjective perception by evaluating the degree of satisfaction of respondents with their working climate (in terms of different elements and overall). This assessment is interpreted in an index value that ranges from 0 to 100; the higher it is, the greater the degree of satisfaction with the working climate.
The survey was based on a two-stage clustered random sample. A total of 3,800 face-to-face interviews were conducted with a ‘main sample’ of 3,300 employed (employees and self-employed, excluding employers) and an ‘additional sample’ of 500 self-employed respondents, all aged 15 and over.
The report on the survey findings is available only in Bulgarian but its key findings are summarised below.
The most common interpretation of data from the first wave of the survey (WCI 2010) suggests that overall satisfaction with the working climate at a time of economic crisis is relatively low (50.9), with only a small difference between employees and the self-employed (51.2 and 47.4 respectively). However, both the effects of the different variables and the components of the indices for these two groups of workers are different.
Index of working climate for employees
The highest degree of satisfaction was expressed for the component ‘management and relationships (77.7), indicating that relations between managers and workers in enterprises can be assessed as good. The components ‘work and rest’ (69.3) and ‘working place’ (61.8), which are characterised by variables such as working time, conditions of rest, work-life balance, the nature of the work and how stressful the work environment is, also received a relatively high value (Table 1).
|Integral index of working climate for employees|| |
|Public regulation|| |
|Work and rest|| |
|Management and relationships|| |
|Workforce development|| |
|Representation of interests|| |
Source: WCI 2010
The lowest level of satisfaction was for opportunities for ‘workforce development’ (20.7), in which the sub-component ‘vocational education and training’ (VET) received an unsatisfactory evaluation (only 7.8). This may be explained by the fact that Bulgarian employers tend not to give much importance to VET for their staff or provide the resources necessary to provide adequate facilities for it.
The low score of ‘representation of interests’ (25.6) may be explained by the low rate of trade unionisation of the workers (21%) and the lack of other effective mechanisms to represent and protect their interests.
The highest values of the WCI were for workers from the education (60.1), financial services (57.1) and government administration (56.8) sectors. The lowest values were for workers from the agriculture and forestry (46.1), construction (45.7) and extractive production (45.0) sectors.
There was a clear difference in satisfaction between trade union members (58.1) and non-union members (49.3). This difference can be seen in all components of the working climate index, but is most pronounced is in terms of pay, opportunities for professional training and representation of interests.
There was also a difference between ‘blue-collar’ (48.0) and ‘white-collar’ (57.4) workers. Blue-collar workers feel less protected, the uncertainty of their employment is greater and their overall pay (such as its level and conditions of pay) is lower.
Index of work climate for the self-employed
The working climate of self-employed people is determined by the number of external and internal factors. The overall working conditions of the self-employed differ significantly from those of employees, while at the same time, some components of the work environment are common or at least similar.
Due to the weak economic situation and the regulatory environment under which the self-employed are controlled in Bulgaria, the risks associated with being self-employed appear to be significantly higher and consequently the overall satisfaction for the self-employed, as indicated by the working climate index, is lower than that of employees (Table 2).
|Integral index of working climate for self-employed|| |
|Legislative and economic environment|| |
|Characteristics and working conditions|| |
|Satisfaction and opportunities for development|| |
|Recent trends in self-employment|| |
Source: WCI 2010
The economic situation and development expectations of small family businesses were assessed by the self-employed as very poor (17.4 and 17.1 respectively). At the same time, some unfavourable trends in their relations with third parties was noted; the self-employed more often find themselves heavily dependent on specific suppliers and contractors than the employed and the possibility of representation is highly constrained.
There was little difference in satisfaction with the working climate of the self-employed by gender or age. However, there were serious deviations from the average when sector and level of educational attainment were examined. Farmers showed an index of satisfaction of 34.0, while the index of satisfaction for the self-employed in healthcare and social activities was 55.8. A similar difference is seen between the self-employed with basic and lower education (33.1) and those with semi-higher and higher education (53.5).
The survey results show substantial differences in working climate, both in terms of its individual components and by type – between private and public sector enterprises, between material production and services, between urban and rural areas, between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers, and so on. This divide cannot be eliminated, but it may be possible to lessen it to reduce the disparities. This is one of the political aims of the study, which in subsequent waves will monitor the developments of ongoing processes.
Lyuben Tomev, ISTUR