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Brew-tiful jobs! Baristas are Australia’s happiest employees

Here's the tea: Cafe workers are Australia's happiest frontline employees, according to Deputy's Shift Pulse Report

Ever wondered where Australia’s happiest workers spend their days? The answer might be brewing right in front of you. According to new data from Deputy, the secret to work-life happiness lies in the bustling, aromatic world of cafes.

Deputy’s second annual Shift Pulse Report reveals that cafe workers top the list of Australia’s happiest frontline employees, beating out their peers in healthcare, retail, and services.
The data, collected via Deputy’s Shift Pulse feature, which allows workers to rate their post-shift mood on a sliding scale, highlights a nationwide trend. With findings from over 1.5 million shift workers globally, including 500,791 in Australia, the report paints a vivid picture of workplace satisfaction.
In the hospitality sector, more than half (58 percent) of workers report feeling amazing after their shifts. In stark contrast, government, call centre, and construction workers often end their days feeling stressed and frustrated.


Local cafes have the best working environments in Australia

The social and dynamic atmosphere of cafes and coffee shops may be why these workplaces have the highest positivity across all shift work industries, with 63 percent of workers feeling amazing after their shifts.

“Australia is known for its world class coffee and love of cafe culture so it’s not surprising that the sector has topped the list of happiest workers in Deputy’s latest Shift Pulse Report. The sociable nature of cafe work, along with opportunities for creativity and working in a vibrant atmosphere, have contributed to these workers feeling the most satisfied at the end of their shifts,” said Katrina Holt, Chief Customer Officer at Deputy.  

“Fast Food and Sit Down Restaurants also showed high levels of satisfaction among workers, pointing to a larger trend observed in Deputy’s data that indicates Hospitality is the happiest sector across all shift work industries in Australia,” she added. 

When asked why he’s so happy to manage a cafe, Lucas Sullivan, Head of Retail at Single O said: “Working in a cafe is a job like no other because we serve as a community hub — not only to local customers but also for tourists and travellers from around the world.

“The simple pleasure of grabbing a daily coffee is something that so many people look forward to. Being directly involved in that and brightening their days is what really makes us tick.

“At Single O, we understand our team has lives outside of work, so we always strive to tailor our rosters to their needs. We pride ourselves on offering flexible working hours so that our staff, whether they are students, working parents or anything in between, feel supported to manage their various commitments. Doing what we can to serve our peoples’ needs has created a culture of trust, where team members are excited to come to work. Having a good mix of people who care about their team and what they do is something we’re very lucky and proud to have.”

Closely behind cafes are gym and fast food restaurant workers, with over half (58 percent and 57 percent, respectively) feeling amazing after their shifts. For gym workers, this underscores the personal fulfilment that often comes from health and wellness-oriented roles, especially if these align with a person’s values and goals.

Despite the fast-paced and demanding environment of fast food restaurants, worker happiness could be influenced by team dynamics, support systems, and effective management practices.

Positive sentiment drops for services

Alarmingly, positive sentiment in the services industry has plummeted 10 percent from 2023 to 2024, indicating a potential increase in workplace stress. Sectors within the services industry that are feeling the stress include government, call centres, and construction.

Government workers have the highest level of unhappiness in the sector, with 16 percent of workers stressed and frustrated.

Call centres are known for their challenging working conditions, and the demands of handling frequent customer grievances can be particularly taxing. These challenges are reflected in their growing dissatisfaction, with workers who feel stressed and frustrated sitting at 11 percent, up 4 percent from 2023.

Construction workers also make the list of most stressed workers in the services industry, with 7 percent feeling “stressed” and “frustrated” at work. The physical demands and deadline pressures faced by construction workers, as well as long working hours, may contribute to their lower job satisfaction.

Healthcare workers gaining positivity after difficult years

Notable was the improvement in sentiment across the healthcare sector, with 83% of workers feeling good or amazing in 2024. This may be due to easing pressures off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increased funding for healthcare industries that have been introduced as part of the 2024 federal budget.

The government has announced $8.5 billion in funding to be allocated to the healthcare sector, which includes $2.8 billion to strengthen Medicare, $4.3 billion to deliver cheaper medicines, $1.3 billion for a fit and healthy Australia, as well as funding support for student nurses.

Working Holiday Visa Holders contributing to State happiness?

The Northern Territory leads state happiness with 87 percent of workers feeling amazing, suggesting an exceptionally positive work environment. This high positive sentiment also comes off the back of a worker shortage in the Northern Territory and changes to working holiday visa rules allowing travellers to take up hospitality jobs in order to complete their required regional work.

Topping the list of unhappiest states is Tasmania, with stress and frustration doubling since 2023, which may reflect the economic challenges or the nature of employment sectors prevalent here.

About the Shift Pulse Report

Deputy’s Shift Pulse Report measures the sentiment hourly workers across Hospitality, Healthcare, Retail, and Services have towards their work. This is the second instalment of the annual report which uses insights collected through Deputy’s Shift Pulse feature. The feature helps businesses easily capture continuous feedback from employees who are able to rate how they felt about their shift on a sliding scale, from “stressed” to “amazing. 839,000 Shift Pulse Survey responses from across Australia were analysed for this report.

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