British workers rank among the lowest globally for how likely they are to say their work is important to them, a study has found.
People in the UK are among the least likely (73 per cent) to say work is very or rather important in their lives, beaten only by Russia (74 per cent) and Canada (75 per cent).
While of the 24 nations surveyed, European neighbours like Italy (96 per cent) and France (94 per cent) ranked much higher than Britain, the Kings College Policy Institute study found.
UK workers also came close to last on prioritising, with just 22 per cent agreeing with the view that work should always come first even if it means less spare time.
Only Australia (21 per cent), Canada (19 per cent) and Japan, (10 per cent) had similar views, the World Values Survey, which dates back to 1981, found.
Careers expert Victoria McLean, who founded City CV and is the chief executive of Hanover Talent Solutions, said the survey signified changing “societal values”.
“This report reveals a significant and in some ways surprising cultural shift, challenging the longstanding belief that your career is a reflection of or determines your identity or worth,” she said.
McLean added: “It’s evident that for many people, the emphasis is shifting away from a traditionally dominant work culture towards a more balanced approach that considers personal wellbeing, leisure and other facets of life.”
However, UK data was gathered in 2022, while other nations’ data was collected between 2017 to 2022, spanning the Covid-19 pandemic and the shift towards working from home.
Joe Ryle, 4 Day Week Campaign director, said Brits were “fed up” of long working hours, despite low productivity and a cost of living crisis.
“We work some of the longest hours in Europe and at the same time have one of the least productive economies because workers are stressed, burnt out and overworked,” he said.
“The time has come for a four-day working week with no loss of pay which would be good for workers, good for the economy and good for the environment.”
But James Watkins, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) head of policy, said the figures did not reflect the entrepreneurial and industrious nature of the capital.
“The entrepreneurialism in London demonstrates the hardworking and innovative culture in the capital,” he told City A.M.
“From the arts to finance and from medicine to manufacturing, Londoners have shown their commitment in driving forward the life chances of people across our city and the country.
“This survey, while interesting, does not reflect the experience of the LCCI and its members”.
Maxwell Marlow, Adam Smith Institute (ASI) research director, added: “It’s little wonder British workers place less importance on work when working hard no longer pays in this country.
“Serious reforms must be considered to combat this, including lowering income taxes, fixing the outdated planning system and introducing supply-side reforms to increase productivity.”