Employee wellbeing league table – We rank 86 UK towns and cities

Last updated on 20 May 2024

The BusinessFinanced.co.uk Employee Wellbeing League Table is a report that provides a fascinating glimpse into how employee wellbeing varies across the nation.

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By analysing some key factors that shape workplace experiences, our report offers a perspective on what makes different towns and cities thrive.

Whether you’re an employer, policymaker, or simply curious about your region’s standing, this report uncovers insights to help foster healthier, more fulfilling workplaces.

Using criteria such as average salary, weekly hours worked, commute time, happiness score, and life satisfaction score, this report reveals how different towns and cities prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce.

Explore the ranking of 86 towns and cities to see how your area measures up and learn how each is advancing employee wellbeing.

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What is employee wellbeing?

Employee wellbeing refers to the holistic health and happiness of individuals in their workplace, encompassing both physical and mental aspects.

It includes factors like work-life balance, job satisfaction, stress management, and access to supportive resources. Financial stability, positive workplace relationships, and opportunities for growth also play a crucial role.

Organisations prioritise employee wellbeing to ensure a motivated, engaged, and productive workforce. This not only benefits employees by enhancing their quality of life but also improves organisational success, reducing absenteeism and turnover while boosting morale and fostering a more collaborative and innovative work environment.

While employee wellbeing is a tricky thing to measure and quantify, we have used a number of metrics which can paint a picture of estimated wellbeing in different geographic areas.

Notable results

  • We found a very broad geographic spread among the top spots, with no apparent UK north-south divide or overall geographic bias.
  • Even 1st and 2nd place (Cheltenham and the Shetland Islands respectively) are around 600 miles apart, as the crow flies.
  • More than a third of the 15 highest-scoring places were in Scotland, with three Scottish locations appearing in the top five, despite Scotland only making up 8.2% of the UK population.
  • At a county level, the location slightly leading the pack was Essex, holding 2 of the top 10 spots.

Infographic – The top 10

The rankings in full

  1. Cheltenham
  2. Shetland Islands
  3. Stirling
  4. Milton Keynes
  5. Dumfries & Galloway
  6. Oxford
  7. Chelmsford
  8. Falkirk
  9. Colchester
  10. Bedford
  11. Bournemouth
  12. Aberdeen
  13. Plymouth
  14. Great Yarmouth
  15. Edinburgh
  16. Tunbridge Wells
  17. Braintree
  18. Wrexham
  19. Lancaster
  20. Ipswich
  21. Swansea
  22. Chester
  23. Dover
  24. Newcastle upon Tyne
  25. Warrington
  26. Isle of Wight
  27. Brighton and Hove
  28. Bath and North East Somerset
  29. York
  1. Portsmouth
  2. Swindon
  3. Coventry
  4. Exeter
  5. Dudley
  6. Preston
  7. Reading
  8. Southend-on-Sea
  9. Wigan
  10. North Tyneside
  11. King’s Lynn
  12. Canterbury
  13. Dundee
  14. Doncaster
  15. Bridgend
  16. Ashford
  17. Bristol
  18. Cardiff
  19. Gloucester
  20. Liverpool
  21. Leeds
  22. Hartlepool
  23. Glasgow
  24. Stafford
  25. Darlington
  26. Blackpool
  27. Stevenage
  28. Luton
  29. Newport
  30. Blackburn with Darwen
  1. Sunderland
  2. Sheffield
  3. Kingston upon Hull
  4. Southampton
  5. Peterborough
  6. Slough
  7. Cambridge
  8. Crawley
  9. Norwich
  10. Barnsley
  11. Gateshead
  12. Derby
  13. Wakefield
  14. Bradford
  15. Worthing
  16. Manchester
  17. Medway
  18. Wolverhampton
  19. Mansfield
  20. Middlesbrough
  21. Eastbourne
  22. Lincoln
  23. Stoke-on-Trent
  24. Leicester
  25. Hastings
  26. Birmingham
  27. Nottingham

Local responses to the research

Cheltenham

Cllr Rowena Hay, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said:

“This report confirms what we’ve always known – that Cheltenham is a fantastic place to live and work. Cheltenham is a vibrant and lively town with world class events, an incredible food and drink scene, a diverse range of shops and beautifully maintained parks and green spaces. Combined with good transport links, this is why many businesses choose to base themselves here in our community. As a council, we have ambitious plans for the town, we continue to attract both new and growing businesses, as well as our established large employers.”

Stirling

Stirling Council leader, Cllr Chris Kane, said:

“We are delighted that Stirling has been named one of the UK’s top three locations for employee wellbeing… We cherish our past, our envious geographical position at the very heart of Scotland and our strong and vibrant communities – and we are constantly looking to the future. Our recent announcement about Stirling Studios, which will be among the biggest film studio campuses in Scotland, will pave the way for thousands of high-skilled jobs as well as major economic benefits to the city and wider region.

“This underlines our ambition to usher in a new transformational chapter in Stirling’s story and help bring an even greater quality of life to people in our area.”

Dumfries & Galloway

Jamie Shovelin, Member Services Manager at Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of Commerce, said:

“It’s fantastic to hear that Dumfries & Galloway has made the top 5 in this recent survey for Employment Wellbeing, The region has a strong sense of community and support networks that exist here. It’s not just a great place to work, it’s a great place to live.”

Chelmsford

Cllr Simon Goldman, Deputy Cabinet Member for Economy & Strategic Projects, said:

“It’s fantastic to see Chelmsford ranked 7th in the UK for the strength of its employee wellbeing. This achievement demonstrates a commitment from the district’s businesses to prioritise their employees’ health and happiness. Employee wellbeing is a key driver of economic success, bringing about benefits that translate into increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and a stronger talent pool. With Chelmsford and Colchester in the top 10 of this league table, it shows that Essex is an attractive location for companies seeking a competitive edge.”

Colchester

Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, said:

“We are delighted to see Colchester ranked 9th in the new BusinessFinanced.co.ukEmployee Wellbeing League Table. 

“This is yet another recognition of the city as a great place to live and work, and is testament to the commitment of local businesses and organisations to fostering a positive and supportive environment for their employees.

“Employee well-being drives productivity and success and is a high priority for the council. We work with many businesses and organisations who we know share that commitment.

“We encourage businesses to utilise the valuable insights offered in the full report to further enhance their employee experience. By prioritising employee well-being, we can all contribute to a more productive, engaged, and successful workforce in Colchester.”

Results in full – Employee wellbeing league table data

RankLocationMedian salary (£)Median hours worked (Weekly)Commute time (minutes)Happiness score (self rated out of 10)Life satisfaction (self rated out of 10)Score
1Cheltenham31,06736.816.77.737.41355
2Shetland Islands32,7053521.98.227.93350
3Stirling30,7743519.157.577.56345
4Milton Keynes31,7453714.057.47.51341
5Dumfries and Galloway25,89335.911.77.637.66334
6Oxford31,47536.820.57.567.8324
7Chelmsford30,5123523.47.797.55313
8Falkirk30,3163719.157.457.62307
9Colchester29,97836.521.27.567.78306
10Bedford31,0213719.757.597.46298
11Bournemouth28,8053717.57.377.57295
12Aberdeen29,95836.818.57.497.35295
13Plymouth26,82036.917.27.717.45294
14Great Yarmouth27,5773717.357.717.54292
15Edinburgh32,2403620.657.257.69285
16Tunbridge Wells32,6743727.77.437.74280
17Braintree32,47737.315.57.577.33280
18Wrexham27,7113715.857.397.53273
19Lancaster26,9063718.77.787.63264
20Ipswich28,6573718.17.217.62263
21Swansea27,01036.917.87.347.47261
22Chester29,38536.819.27.297.44260
23Dover29,70236.916.857.347.18259
24Newcastle upon Tyne28,04436.918.27.287.5258
25Warrington30,2593719.37.327.45258
26Isle of Wight25,17236.818.17.537.42256
27Brighton and Hove29,1443518.27.037.39251
28Bath and North East Somerset29,4513618.857.27.38250
29York28,5923720.67.457.57249
30Portsmouth28,5733718.157.377.38249
31Swindon31,68337.518.87.437.43243
32Coventry29,4763719.77.457.35242
33Exeter27,39736.818.557.347.36241
34Dudley27,3893718.657.497.44240
35Preston26,7523718.157.797.38238
36Reading29,9273721.17.427.43237
37Southend-on-Sea31,92336.920.857.317.36237
38Wigan28,2463719.37.37.59236
39North Tyneside28,0973720.257.477.51235
40King’s Lynn26,57337.515.957.457.56234
41Canterbury26,5343520.257.377.46232
42Dundee27,24736.915.27.047.4231
43Doncaster27,77237.518.97.597.49227
44Bridgend27,4393722.67.727.49221
45Ashford29,34437.518.67.577.31217
46Bristol30,86736.221.67.27.31210
47Cardiff30,23035.919.357.17.15208
48Gloucester27,65337.418.37.387.44205
49Liverpool28,28936.919.17.347.1204
50Leeds29,0003721.657.287.46201
51Hartlepool25,8593717.57.577.29200
52Glasgow28,8363519.87.147.24197
53Stafford32,7643720.27.087.2194
54Darlington27,2823715.57.177.32193
55Blackpool23,5063717.47.317.49190
56Stevenage28,1363720.27.217.42181
57Luton27,3623721.47.647.3181
58Newport27,7643717.87.137.27180
59Blackburn with Darwen25,47637187.437.24172
60Sunderland25,3333716.457.337.3171
61Sheffield28,3733720.457.337.28171
62Kingston upon Hull25,3963718.157.327.38170
63Southampton28,5393718.77.077.23170
64Peterborough28,12337.414.057.147.25169
65Slough33,37037.523.957.47.25167
66Cambridge34,4363722.37.026.46159
67Crawley29,34837.325.157.047.59155
68Norwich28,45637207.077.3155
69Barnsley27,1893720.257.297.37152
70Gateshead26,3843719.957.367.35151
71Derby28,44237.420.357.287.36144
72Wakefield26,4233719.657.177.39143
73Bradford26,21636.919.957.247.2143
74Worthing30,54237.318.857.026.97143
75Manchester27,21736.819.656.856.97140
76Medway30,09137.423.257.297.29137
77Wolverhampton26,28237.519.757.497.25134
78Mansfield25,43737.118.97.47.18134
79Middlesbrough25,0793717.857.057.35132
80Eastbourne29,0603720.356.576.68131
81Lincoln27,2283717.956.576.7130
82Stoke-on-Trent25,9753719.357.327.16122
83Leicester24,2453719.67.247.36121
84Hastings25,8973715.56.566.93121
85Birmingham27,1753721.057.187.24104
86Nottingham23,3773722.97.247.2464

Methodology

To work out our ranking of the best UK towns and cities for employee wellbeing, we based our calculations on the following metrics for each location:

  • Median salary
  • Average hours worked per week
  • Average commute to work, in minutes
  • Average happiness score (self-rated, out of 10)
  • Average life satisfaction score (self-rated, out of 10)

We used ONS data, and only included a location in the league table if data for all metrics was available – which resulted in 86 towns and cities being included.

For each of the 5 metrics, a score was assigned to each location. These scores were added up, and each location was given a final score based on the total score of its 5 individual scores.

Data sources

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