Nearly half of global employees unhappy in jobs: Survey

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With nearly half of the world's employed population unhappy in their jobs one can't help but wonder: What ever happened to job satisfaction?

According to staffing agency Kelly Services' annual survey covering 120,000 respondents globally, a staggering 48 percent of employees are unhappy in their current jobs, up from 47 percent the previous year.

A combination of factors is dampening sentiment, including headcount reductions, smaller bonuses and fewer benefits as companies cut back on spending.

(Read more: Employment gap between rich and poor highest on record)

"The macroeconomic environment has manifested in the policies of companies. The decrease in headcount means, in some cases, one person has to do the work of two. That's caused some dissatisfaction," said Mark Hall, Vice President and Country Manager, Kelly Services Singapore.

"There's also a lack of security in their jobs, with employees constantly thinking about what they need to do to retain their work," he added.

With such a high level of dissatisfaction, it is no surprise that 43 percent of respondents said they frequently think about quitting their jobs, compared with 37 percent last year.

(Read more: A Third of UK Employees Unhappy in Their Job: Poll)

In fact, almost half of the respondents have changed their employers in the past year, with the greatest rate of job change in the EMEA region at 51 percent, compared with 45 percent in the Americas and 42 percent in Asia Pacific.

By country, however, Australia saw the highest rate of employees switching jobs at 62 percent – a reflection of the rebalancing taking place in the economy as the mining boom fades.

Asia's employment trends
Asia's employment trends

Emerging markets such as South Africa, Indonesia and India, by contrast, had the lowest rates of job change. "For developing economies like Indonesia, which are climbing upwards and have lots of [foreign direct investment] coming in, there's a feel good factor as more opportunities are created," Hall said.

Different perceptions towards jobs existed not only amongst countries, but generations too, the survey showed.

For "Baby Boomers" and "Generation X," a good work-life balance was ranked the top factor influencing job choice. But for "Generation Y", personal growth and advancement was regarded as most important.

(Read more: Americans Hate Their Jobs, Even With Office Perks)

"Generation Y want it all. Because of the information age, they are aware of the opportunities out there, so personal growth is high in their agenda," Hall said. "For Gen X, a lot of them are looking at work life balance as they have families, so there's a different level of commitment."

—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter @Ansuya_H