Swiss employees generally happy at work

Most Swiss workers are satisfied with their employment conditions Keystone

The overwhelming majority of Swiss are satisfied with their working conditions although improvements could be made in some areas, according to a study released on Monday by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).

This content was published on June 25, 2012 minutes and agencies

The report, drawn up jointly with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, compares working conditions in Switzerland with those in countries of the European Union, and how these have changed between 2005 and 2010.

“In no country of the European Union is working time as flexible as in Switzerland,” the study said.

“Swiss employees are more often included in decisions affecting their work, and they work more autonomously. They are also given more opportunities by their employers to get further training,” it added.

It found that 91 per cent of respondents said they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their conditions, placing them in sixth position in the study. The countries with the most satisfied workers were Denmark, Britain and the Netherlands.

Of all those surveyed, the Swiss were the least worried about losing their jobs.

But the study also noted a number of aspects where Switzerland fell behind EU countries.

“Work pace and deadline pressure are higher than average in Switzerland, and employees complain more about harassment. Since 2005 the pressure and the health problems associated with it have increased,” it said.

Although 87 per cent of Swiss employees reported feeling healthy – as against an EU average of 78 per cent – many said they had had at least one health problem in the previous 12 months. The most common health complaints were muscle pain in the neck and shoulders, back pain, headaches, eye strain, muscle pains in the legs, insomnia and stomach aches.

Switzerland came out near the bottom for the number of women in management positions.

“Whereas in the EU countries the proportion of employees who said their boss was a woman increased between 2005 and 2010 (from 25 to 29 per cent), this figure remained static in Switzerland at around 20 per cent,” the study reported.

Wage gap narrows

Also on Monday Travail Suisse, the umbrella organisation of Swiss Trade Unions, published its eighth annual report on the salary gap between top management and the lowest paid workers in a number of leading enterprises.

It found that some of the “galactic” differences had been reduced or at least remained stable in the biggest companies – Novartis, UBS, Roche, Nestlé and Credit Suisse – but that the gap had widened “enormously” in what it calls “normal” enterprises, such as Implenia, Kuoni, Lonza, Baloise and Georg Fischer.

“In the last ten years the wage gap here has doubled, or even tripled. Such increases are not justified by performance, but are rather the result of a desire to catch up,” the report says.

In cases where the gap narrowed in 2011, the report attributes this to “bank regulations, staff changes, losses and falls in turnover, which rightly had a dampening effect on managers’ pay.”

However, it said the biggest gap was in Novartis, whose CEO Joe Jimenez earned 266 times as much as the lowest paid worker in the company.

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