Are Workers at Disneyland the Happiest on Earth?

December 10, 2007 by Ken Nowack

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Albert Schweitzer

It’s no surprise that workers aren’t very satisfied with work stress and pay/benefits–and stress seems to make us sick, fat and depressed according to recent research. Today, talent at work seem to be most satisfied with physical safety on the job and relationships with peers and colleagues.

In a recent 2007 Gallup poll of 547 full time employees, talent were asked to share their level of satisfaction with 13 distinct aspects of their jobs. Overall, less than 50% reported being completely “satisfied”, 48% reported being “somewhat satisfied”and and 6% said they were “dissatisfied.”

Job Aspect — Completely Satisfied %

  • Relations with coworkers — 74%
  • Flexibility of hours — 68%
  • Boss or immediate supervisor — 60%
  • Vacation time you receive — 55%
  • The amount of work required of you — 54%
  • On-the-job stress — 32%
  • Amount of money you earn — 29%

A recent study by Tom Smith, director of the General Social Survey (GSS) at the National Research center at the University of Chicago measured both job satisfaction and happiness levels in 27,000 people. Across all occupations, on average 47% reported they were satisfied with their jobs and 33% reported being “very happy” overall.

Smith found the most satisfying and least satisfying jobs to be:


  • Laborers, except construction (21%)
  • Apparel clothing sales (24% )
  • Handpackers and packagers (24%)
  • Food preparers (24%)
  • Roofers (25%)
  • Cashiers (25%)


  • Clergy (87%)
  • Firefighters (80%)
  • Physical therapists (78%)
  • Authors (74%)
  • Special education teachers (70%)
  • Teachers (69%)

Three occupations (clergy, firefighters and special education teachers) also reported the highest levels of “happiness” as well as having the highest levels of job satisfaction. People scored highest on the happiness scale had the following jobs in the this order:

  1. Clergy
  2. Firefighters
  3. Transportation ticket and reservation agents
  4. Housekeepers and butlers
  5. Hardware/building supplies sales
  6. Architects
  7. Mechanics and repairers
  8. Special education teachers
  9. Actors and directors
  10. Science technicians

The least happiest employees seemed to be most prevalent in service occupations such as food/beverage preparation and serving including (laborers except construction (21%), clothing sales (24%), Food preparers (24%), roofers (25%), cashiers (25%), bartenders (26%), waiters/servers (27%).

No word on whether those doing lower skill and service work at Disneyland report higher levels of either job satisfaction or happiness….Be well….

Kenneth Nowack, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist (PSY13758) and President & Chief Research Officer/Co-Founder of Envisia Learning, is a member of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations. Ken also serves as the Associate Editor of Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. His recent book Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It is available for free for a limited time by signing up for free blog updates (Learn more at our website)

Posted in Engagement, Relate, Wellness

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