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Why a higher income does not equate to happiness

By Jana Angeles | 21 November 2019

They say money can buy happiness but can it really? This statement has people torn because with money, you may be able to afford property, designer handbags, cars or have the means to travel every year. Everyone desires a high income, or has dreams of winning the lottery but does it all sound better in theory? 

Either way, it’s important not to get sucked into the idea of a promotion or a job with a higher salary because it may not equate to happiness at all. 

According to Bloomberg, the occupation with the highest level of job satisfaction are firefighters. In the U.S, the median income for a firefighter is under $50,000 USD. Along with firefighters, other professions such as pediatricians, guidance counsellors and mine cutting operators also come next, however, these occupations offer a higher salary than what firefighters are currently earning.

Haworth’s discussion paper, ‘Raising the bar: Australian Millennials in the Workplace’, says that millennials will make up the largest percentage of the global workforce by 2025. It’s no surprise that businesses are trying hard to retain this generation of workers - not just for a well-paying salary but also offering other work perks such as professional development opportunities, flexible working arrangements and a strong company culture.

With the above mind, SkillsTalk go over the reasons why a higher income does not equate to happiness, and how the millennial generation are changing the way we view work. 

3 reasons why a high salary does not equate to happiness

  1. Job development matters more.
  2. Flexible working arrangements are becoming the norm.
  3. Having a job with purpose and meaning is important.

1. Job development matters more.

asian woman employee offering handshake

Training opportunities and a chance to undertake further study are valued by your typical employee. While many may be incentivised by the high income, this is not the case for those who value employers that look out for their employees when it comes to upskilling and training. 

According to research, millennials are more likely to change jobs at twice the rate of previous generations. In most cases, they change because they are bored of their role or their demands cannot be met by the employer. 

However, millennials are more inclined to stay when the opportunity of “continued learning” is in place and they seek companies who identify as a learning organisation - one’s that offer great opportunities for employees to further develop their skillsets through training or improving their credentials by working towards a nationally recognised qualification

Having the opportunity to upskill can be an effective way to win over potential job candidates who are offered a position with a higher salary. This is particularly relevant to millennials because it’s been known that they value companies who offer career progression or opportunities where they can diversify their skillset.

2. Flexible working practices are becoming the norm.

Millennials want flexibility when it comes to the way they work. They generally don’t like managers that are clock-watchers, and want to be able to put their best efforts at work while also having that balance where they can tend to their personal and family commitments. This is where flexible working arrangements comes into play.

A survey conducted by Haworth mentions that Australian millennials value flexible start and finish times. A participant who took the survey said, “I’m more productive at work when I’m able to spend quality time with family or attend appointments when required.”

There’s no doubt that millennials are more inclined to work smarter and given the options of working remotely are being normalised, this can help them be happier and reach optimum productivity when it comes to their job. With digital and mobile technology existing, it’s easy to blur both work and personal life together so having boundaries in place is important to avoid burnout. 

Otherwise, having flexible working arrangements may take the pressure off from other things such as reducing commute times, or simply being able to attend health appointments without worrying about making up the hours during the work week.

Generally speaking, workplaces that promote flexibility have a good company culture in place and can help increase employee retention. As more millennials settle down and have kids, flexibility is important so they can make room for the more important stuff in life while earning an income.

3. Having a job with purpose and meaning is important. 

employees giving each other high fives

Millennials have been described as the “purpose” generation and a recent survey has revealed that 63% of participants (employees under the age of 35) believe that businesses should be aiming to improve society rather than work towards making a profit. 

Another study also unveiled that 94% of millennials want to use their skillset to help benefit a cause. In saying that, it’s no surprise that more millennials are more inclined to work in a job that gives them purpose and meaning. 

It gives them a chance to hone their skills while also working towards the same objectives and values their company believes in. 

It’s been found from LinkedIn’s latest Workplace Culture report, 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work for an organisation where their mission and values are aligned with each other. 

An infographic of the Workplace Culture report was also released, providing a solid summary on what professionals are saying about what they want out of their jobs and the companies they’re working for. Below are some interesting findings:
  • 46% of people want to feel like they can be themselves at work.
  • 44% prefer strong workplace benefits over perks (food, game rooms & gym).
  • 70% consider bad workplace culture is a dealbreaker and will not be tolerated.
It’s interesting to see the statistics above, considering how most employees want to feel a sense of belonging and prefer being part of a workplace culture that is positive and thriving. It’s no surprise that millennials are moving towards work that provides them a decent work-life balance, something that doesn’t necessarily have a higher income in place but makes them more engaged and happier employees. 

Itching to change jobs?

If you’re not too happy with your current role and thinking about making the job switch, consider undertaking further study with Upskilled. 

With over 80 nationally recognised qualifications, you can study in the fields of business, community services or IT while also helping you gain or develop skills that are relevant to your industry. 

Not only does study help you when it comes to making moves within your career but it can also help you market yourself when looking for a new job or an internal work promotion. Enquire today about a course and see what opportunities it can lead to. 
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