Good Work Barometer

The quality of working conditions in Switzerland is central both to the country’s position as a business hub and to the well-being of its workers. It is gauged annually by the Good Work Barometer, which surveys a representative sample of workers in order to monitor indicators in the fields of motivation, job security and health.



Happy employees and a productive working environment are vital to Switzerland as a business hub. However, megatrends such as globalisation and digitalisation are causing constant change in the world of employment. While the quality of work is paramount from an employer’s point of view, the quality of the working conditions is a key factor for employees. Since 2015, BFH and Travail.Suisse have therefore been using the Good Work Barometer to collect data on the quality of working conditions in Switzerland. The joint project is based on the idea that a sustainable job needs to safeguard health, maintain motivation and offer a guaranteed degree of security.

Course of action

A representative sample of around 1,500 people aged between 16 and 64 is surveyed every year for the Good Work Barometer. The survey methodology is based on the Good Work Index published by the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB). It indicates the quality of work from the workers’ point of view, focusing on motivation, job security and health. These three dimensions are broken down into subdimensions.

  • Under motivation, for example, the survey asks about meaningfulness, appreciation, the potential for job crafting and development opportunities.
  • Under job security, the focus is on prospects, trust and satisfaction.
  • Under health, the survey examines stress and stress relief.

These six subdimensions are measured on the basis of a range of criteria and items. The result is a score of between 0 and 100 for each subdimension, where a value of 100 indicates an ideal working situation.


Motivation among employees in Switzerland is high. However, development opportunities and the potential for job crafting are rated as comparatively poor. In hospitality, wholesale and retail in particular, the lack of say when it comes to working hours is seen as problematic. The fairly high scores for work-life balance remain static at around 75 out of 100 points.

Figures in the motivation and job security dimensions are significantly lower for workers who have not undergone formal vocational training, women and foreign nationals. Restricted mobility on the job market is a problem for people who have no post-compulsory education. Among women, the biggest differences can be seen under the indicators ‘income’ and ‘job crafting opportunities’. Foreign nationals score lower in all dimensions, indicating that there is room for improvement where equal access to qualitatively superior working conditions is concerned.

The scores in the health dimension remain stable at a relatively low level. Pressure and mental stress are seen as particularly problematic.

There are major differences between sectors. While ‘education and teaching’ and ‘business/technical services’ regularly come out on top, hospitality regularly features at the bottom of the industry rankings. Medium-term job security scores most negatively in the ‘transport and warehousing’ and ‘finance and insurance’ sectors.

This is where the consequences of digitalisation are felt most keenly, with comparable posts increasingly disappearing. The quality of working conditions receives a poorer rating in certain regions. When it comes to job security and motivation in particular, there are clear differences between German-speaking Switzerland and the cantons of Valais, Vaud, Geneva and Ticino.

Working from home during the pandemic

During lockdown, half of employees worked from home, either fully or partially. The majority of those working from home mentioned positive aspects: no longer having to commute, increased control of their own schedule and a quiet, calm workplace. There were also negative impacts on the employees’ mental health. The most frequently mentioned of these was the absence of social contact in the workplace. This was followed by the lack of ergonomics, being constantly available and the difficulty of combining family life and work.

Jobs and job location

Specific jobs have a particularly strong impact on job satisfaction.For example, satisfaction is greater where jobs involve customer contact, hands-on work with materials and working outdoors. Working at a computer, as part of a team, being given responsibility and having a managerial or supervisory role are also rated positively. On the other side of the coin, physically demanding jobs and jobs where there is no natural daylight result in lower levels of satisfaction. In terms of location, a longer commute leads to lower job satisfaction.

People who are unable to work from home or who are not given the option are less satisfied with the quality of working conditions than people who spend at least half of their time working from home. At the same time, however, analyses show that employees continue to value a personal, dedicated workspace.


Building on the Good Work Barometer findings, plans are currently afoot for a project focusing on well-being in the workplace, one aspect of which will be to develop online interventions that will enable individual job crafting.

This project contributes to the following SDGs