Thorunn Egilsdottir
Corporate Communication Manager
15th June 2023

Is Luxembourg happy at work? The impact of a bad atmosphere at work and how to improve employee satisfaction.

Does a bad working atmosphere have an impact on a company and what can we do to improve employee satisfaction? We spoke to David Büchel, psychologist at the Chambre des Salariés (Chamber of Employees), who gives us five useful tips to increase our happiness at work.

1. Mr Büchel. In terms of well-being and job satisfaction, how do we compare with the rest of Europe?

Happiness is a concept that goes beyond working life. It is important to note that the measurement of mental well-being is complex and must consider the individual’s physical, emotional, social and spiritual attributes.

If we limit ourselves to the aspect of job satisfaction, the Labour Force Survey (LFS) makes it possible to compare workers’ job satisfaction in different European countries.

Looking at the figures for the year 2021, employee satisfaction in Luxembourg certainly appears to be high in absolute terms, with approximately 86% of people declaring themselves satisfied with their work, with 51.7% “fairly satisfied” and 34.8% “completely satisfied”. However, the country is at the bottom of the European ranking (29th out of 31), ahead of Lithuania and Slovenia and behind Bulgaria and Portugal. With 98% of respondents satisfied, Hungary was first, followed by Norway, Latvia and Denmark.

However, it should be noted that these statistics only take into account resident workers but not cross-border workers. Of course, there is also a significant variation by occupation, with farmers, skilled tradespeople and managers, executives and professionals most satisfied with their work.

Staff providing direct services to individuals (hairdressers, waiters, guides, caretakers, etc.) are less often satisfied at work.

2. Luxembourg is multicultural and multilingual. What impact does this have in the workplace?

A multitude of cultures and nationalities means a multitude of languages. This means that the ability to speak several languages is highly valued in the Luxembourg workplace. Many companies require their employees to be proficient in at least two of the country's three official languages (Luxembourgish, French and German), and some also require proficiency in English or other languages depending on the nature of their activities.

The multicultural nature of Luxembourg's workforce brings people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to work together. This diversity can help companies to be more innovative and creative, and to better meet the needs of a diverse customer base, but it also requires companies to be sensitive to different cultural norms and to actively promote inclusion and diversity.

Luxembourg is a hub of international business and finance, and home to many companies with a global vision and a network of international relationships. For employees, this represents opportunities to work on international projects, develop global skills and build professional networks that extend beyond Luxembourg.

3. People leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, so how do researchers measure “employee satisfaction”?

Job satisfaction is measured by specific surveys and questionnaires designed to assess workers' perceptions, attitudes and opinions about their work and working environment. Often job satisfaction is measured by a simple question on the degree of satisfaction, which should be determined on a 4- or 5-level measurement scale, ranging from "very satisfied" to "not at all satisfied".

However, job satisfaction is a complex construct in which adaptation and comparison processes play an important role. This approach does not allow, for example, to distinguish between motivated and resigned workers (dissatisfied but unwilling or unable to change their work situation). It is therefore not advisable to rely solely on the job satisfaction indicator to get a complete picture of employee well-being.

This is why more comprehensive surveys, such as the Quality of Work Index1, mainly use multiple indicators, both objective and subjective, to measure work quality. Issues such as the mental and emotional demands of the job, working hours, cooperation with colleagues, scope of work, satisfaction with pay, opportunities for further training and promotion, work-life balance and many others are rated.

Other methods such as administrative data (turnover rates, absences from work, number of complaints, etc.) and focus group interviews can be used to complete the process of assessing the risks of job dissatisfaction in the company.

4. What threats do employers face if they neglect employee satisfaction?

Dissatisfaction at work inhibits motivation and causes stress and frustration among employees. This can have an immediate and delayed impact on the company’s overall performance, as well as generating significant costs.

First of all, stress can lead to psychosomatic disorders, mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, but also to burnout and thus to an increase in absenteeism in the short, medium and long term.

In addition, a stressful atmosphere can lead to accidents due to inattention and overwork, or to violent attacks due to conflicts with colleagues or customers, resulting in physical and/or mental damage, which in turn leads to absence due to sickness.

Similarly, workers who are unhappy or dissatisfied with their work, even if they are not on sick leave, may be less motivated to perform at their best at work, which can lead to lower productivity and quality of work. This can have a negative impact on the company’s overall performance and profitability.

A poor working atmosphere quickly becomes apparent especially in customer services. Employees who are unhappy or dissatisfied with their work may be less likely to provide good customer service, which can impact on customer satisfaction and lead to business losses.

Employees who are dissatisfied with their work are more likely to leave the organisation in search of better opportunities. High staff turnover can be expensive for employers, who must spend time and resources finding, recruiting and training new staff to replace those who have left the company.

Finally, workers who leave their jobs because of negative experiences and a bad working atmosphere are not necessarily the best advertisement for a company. A negative working environment with a high level of employee dissatisfaction can damage a company's reputation. This can make it more difficult to recruit top talent and may also damage the company's relationships with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders who take social responsibility seriously.

5. What are your five top tips for readers who want to feel happier at work?

Five useful tips: 

  1. Maintain positive relationships with your colleagues and superiors. It is worth listening actively and showing empathy and kindness.

  2. Prioritise self-care. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthily. Take breaks when you need them and switch off from work when you are not at work.

  3. Talk to a colleague, your manager or your staff representatives if you have problems with conflicts, workload or working hours. Talking about a problem is the first step to finding a solution.

  4. Think about what motivates you, what you like doing and how your work contributes to a wider goal or mission. It is important to feel that you are doing something useful in your work.

  5. Confide in someone if you can’t deal with your problem on your own, e.g. your family doctor, a psychotherapist, a psychologist, a coach or the free psychological counselling service: or 27 494 - 222.

About the blog:


There is an urgent need for rapid transition to global sustainability. Business and industry have enormous social and environmental impacts. "Why does it matter?" is a bi-monthly blog that aims to elucidate this important topic through the eyes of our experts. 

Don't miss out our experts' practical tips for your daily life and be part of the positive change.