Will Earning A Higher Salary Make You Happier?

As humans, we naturally strive to do better in life to achieve higher-paid roles. With families to provide for, mortgages to pay and bills constantly climbing, we all believe we could do with more in our paychecks. This is why so many people push themselves in their professional life. From putting in extra hours, taking on unpaid responsibilities and using our free time to gain more qualifications with CPD accreditation.

But after all this effort, will earning more actually make us any happier? While we can all have more disposable income we can pay for experiences that can bring happiness, such as holidays and new cars, this often only provides a temporary state of mind and does not actually contribute to our overall wellbeing and happiness.

Money saving

Recent data collected by The ONS was cross-referenced to find out if higher salaries are a contribution to happiness. Working professionals were surveyed across a variety of industries to produce the below results. You can see the results here: https://www.cpdstandards.com/news/more-money-more-happiness/

Weekly Earnings and Happiness

Respondents provided their average weekly earnings and also rated their general happiness levels between 1-10. These were then analysed to see if there was any correlation between the two.

Retail showed the largest correlation at 92%, revealing that this sector possesses happier employees as their salaries rise. The next highest scorers were accommodation and food services at 89%, education at 89%, administration at 87% and manufacturing at 86%.

However, there were industries that showed very little correlation between their average weekly earnings and their levels of happiness.

Mining and quarrying provided the least, at a meagre 22%. While exact data as to why this was so was not provided, we can speculate. Industries such as this are highly demanding on an individual’s mental and physical health.

As such, larger salaries are often provided to compensate for this and attempt to alleviate stress from harsh working conditions. It appears that despite this compensation, it is not enough to alter the levels of happiness with employees.

Salary and Anxiety 

Just as happiness was recorded, anxiety was scored on a scale of 1-10 and cross-referenced with respondents earnings.

Almost all industries that reported the highest levels of happiness with earnings also reported higher levels of anxiety.

Retail possessed the strongest correlation, at 75%, manufacturing at 72%, education at 69% and accommodation and food services at 68%.

This correlation was not as strong as the previous happiness scale but there is still something to be taken from this. Anxiety should not be mistaken for unhappiness, we can be both anxious and happy in our lives and the two emotions can live side-by-side.

As salaries rise, so does job responsibility which can impact our daily lives, this shows that anxiety increases with this.

An interesting point to take from this is the health and social work sector scored the lowest within this category with 53% correlation. This is an industry infamous for high-stress levels and anxiety within the workforce, however, it appears this does not increase as wages go up.

This could be due to staff gaining more experience within their careers and being able to handle stress better. It could also be that as promotions are achieved, more support if provided for those who face a battle on a daily basis.

Happiness and Bonuses

Bonuses are seen as a way for businesses to thank their employees for a job well done. It is an incentive for staff to meet and exceed targets while hoping to boost staff morale with the promise of some extra cash.

However, this survey has shown that these results are not being achieved. Overall the industries surveyed, there was little correlation, the highest was the construction industry at just 41%.

We can interpret this in many ways. Perhaps target-driven bonus schemes are placing too much pressure on employees, causing stress and fatigue as they push themselves to meet these targets in order to gain bonuses. The mean does not justify the outcome.

It could also be that employees do not see these bonus sums as large enough to justify a change in their attitude, or perhaps it simply isn’t money that brings them happiness.

Income Satisfaction and Happiness

More money doesn’t equal income satisfaction. Those on a modest salary can still be satisfied with their income, it all comes down to if we believe we are being paid fairly for our time, effort and skills.

Once again, retail shows the highest happiness levels in correlation income satisfaction at 87%.

Mining and quarrying was the lowest scorer with just 9% correlation. It appears that due to the long-term health implication of the role, very few employees in this sector believe they are paid fairly to ensure their happiness.

Anxiety and Living Comfortably

Those who feel they have enough disposable income to not be worried about cash flow and classed themselves as ‘living comfortably’ reported the highest correlation of anxiety levels at 90%.

Roles that provide this kind of financial stability are often incredibly demanding and hard to ‘turn-off’ in. Longer working hours, teamed with high responsibilities and the common occurrence of having to travel and not being able to spend time with loved ones are all contributing factors to this anxiety. 

Overall, the study shows us that yes, money can bring us happiness but only if we choose the right industry to spend our working lives in. We do however need to be prepared to sacrifice our mental health and take on higher levels of anxiety in order to achieve. 

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