Survey: Doctors, lawyers, engineers are Malaysia’s unhappiest workers

The newly-completed National Cancer Institute, situated next to Hospital Putrajaya. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
The newly-completed National Cancer Institute, situated next to Hospital Putrajaya. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 1 — Doctors, lawyers and engineers are the unhappiest workers in Malaysia as advancement opportunities beyond their supervisory positions are scarce, a survey has shown.

The recent survey conducted by recruitment site JobsCentral Malaysia among 3,508 employed Malaysians also showed a slight decrease in their work satisfaction from 60.4 in 2012 to 59.05 this year, out of a maximum score of 100.

“The lack of jobs available for professional degree holders means that they are among the unhappiest workers in Malaysia,” said JobsCentral Malaysia CEO Hee Kim Fah in a statement, referring to the qualifications held by doctors, lawyers and engineers.

“About half of professional degree holders are supervisors, and their drive for higher positions is hard to fulfill in Malaysia,” he added.

According to JobsCentral Malaysia’s Work Happiness Survey 2013, “professional degree” holders, or doctors, lawyers and engineers, only scored a work happiness rating of 53.3, the lowest among various academic qualification holders, compared to pre-university/ STPM/ A-Levels graduates at 61.4. 

Those with “professional qualifications”, meaning graduates from post-secondary institutions like a design academy, but who are not diploma or degree-holders, scored the second-lowest at 56.4.  

Permanent workers also had lower job satisfaction at 58.6 than part-timers or interns at 60.7

“Since a major factor of work unhappiness is advancement opportunities, it is probable that part-timers and interns who do not have to worry about promoting are happier,” said the survey.

Surprisingly, the happiest workers were those earning the lowest from RM999 a month and below, ranking 61.5, whereas those who recorded the poorest job satisfaction at 55.9 were people with monthly salaries of between RM8,000 and RM8,999.

Survey respondents were most dissatisfied with advancement opportunities, followed by their salaries, work autonomy, work demands and work-life balance.

“It is currently hard to get a promotion in the workplaces of Malaysia, as advancement opportunities has scored as the least satisfying factor for Malaysians in both 2012 and 2013,” said the survey.

Survey respondents also cited advancement opportunities as the most important factor in job satisfaction, followed by salary, interesting work, good relationships with colleagues and acceptable work demands.

“The biggest surprise compared to last year was the un-importance of their work-life balance, scoring a 7.45 for 2013 compared to 5.74 in 2012. This shows that Malaysians are more willing to invest more time in their job in order to get their salary and promotions,” said the survey.

The survey further revealed that female workers are slightly happier than their male counterparts, scoring 59.28 compared to 58.62.

“Technical and associate”, or IT professionals, also enjoyed the highest job satisfaction at 61.2, compared to executives who scored the lowest at 57.9.

“Organising and running successful events are gratifying experiences to the employees, which is why event management employees are some of the most satisfied employees in Malaysia. In contrary, factory workers are one of the least satisfied in Malaysia, due to the low salary and lack of advancement opportunities,” said Hee.

The survey was conducted from April to July this year among various job functions, such as administration, business development, purchasing, compliance, consulting, customer support, design, training, engineering, events management, finance/ accounting/ banking, human resource, IT systems/ support, legal, management, management trainee, marketing, merchandising/ purchasing, operations/ logistics, production, public relations, research and development, risk management, sales, technology/ programming, translation/ editorial.