- Money vs Job Satisfaction – Which makes you happier?

Or put another way, do you live to work or work to live?

We all find and experience happiness in different ways; what works for one doesn’t necessarily extend to others. Some of us find contentment in a simpler way of life. This could be through enjoying the ‘here and now’ with family and friends, and life experiences such as travel or learning new skills, over the commercially-pushed material objects like new cars and the latest technology.

However, all of these are end results; the ends that justify our means. The desired things that our time at work and salaries provide us with.

So this begs the question… in our first world/developed society, can a job that pays a high salary, but offers little else, guarantee long term employment and personal happiness? For some, maybe it does. If they can achieve their goals by earning more money, job satisfaction might be an easy trade-off, a means to an end… the more they earn, the more they can buy the things that they believe will continue their happiness.

However, in pursuit of these gains, we spend approximately one third of our lives at work, so could it be argued that we should be happy while we’re there too, at least for some of the time? So, do we need to strike a balance; a competitive salary in a business that values our thoughts and opinions, and encourages individuals to reach their full potential through appropriate career progression?

We all have different definitions of ‘job satisfaction’. For some, it could be the opportunity to develop in a role and advance in our career. For others, it could be the quality of relationships with co-workers and managers. For some people, salary, job security, benefits and regular perks may be the deciding factor.

Every job has its highs and lows, but if an employee is content with their salary and can laugh and find an element of joy, either in the work they do or the people they do it with, they are likely to feel a good sense of job satisfaction. However, if an employee feels they are suffering emotionally every day, either due to the pressures of the role, a lack of defined purpose, or difficult relationships with co-workers, then it’s unlikely that any amount of money will make up for that.

A person’s measure of happiness in a job depends largely on their needs, obligations, priorities, values, spending habits, and often the reasons they applied for the role in the first place. No two people will ever have exactly the same motivations.

This is where appraisals are so important. They can prove vital for ensuring job satisfaction and good mental health amongst staff, as well as staff retention and developing and maintaining a sense of community within the organisation.

Appraisals are ideal for measuring, rewarding and improving performance and developing staff skills, but should be used as more than just a vehicle for ensuring you get the most out of your employees. They should also serve as an open line of communication between management and staff, where feedback and recognition, and concerns, questions and requests can be mutually shared.

Company policies that support appraisals should focus on transparency, consistency, confidentiality, and set a standard that applies broadly across the organisation, on all staffing and management levels.

Ultimately, appraisals keep us aware of the individual needs and requirements of both employees and management, enabling us to provide an environment, opportunities and where appropriate, salaries, that ensure both parties are as happy as possible, while allowing the organisation to run as smoothly as possible.

In conclusion, can a job with a high salary alone guarantee long term happiness? Given our current society and our complex natures as humans, we think not. Food for thought; do you know what your employees consider most important to them – money or job satisfaction? Do you carry out appraisals at your organisation? Do you praise your staff, openly recognising their contributions? Do your company policies support having these open lines of communication between management and staff on a regular basis?

If you would like advice or help on communicating with your staff, creating job satisfaction and developing simple but effective appraisal systems, contact us on 01582 883299 or email su@suallen.co.uk.