Will candidates gain happiness from higher wages?

Posted on 01 November 2020

It’s a big factor for most of us when it comes to looking for a new career, wages make a huge impact on our lives and many of us seek a career change for the benefit of added wealth. However, does money really bring happiness?

It’s an obvious statement that money can not bring love, family or good health but as the saying goes ‘money can’t bring happiness, but it’s better to cry in a Lamborghini’. When placing candidates in a new role, the first question is often regarding the salary. While we all understand we need a certain pay level to maintain our lifestyle and provide for families, some can easily get carried away with the thought of a substantial pay rise.

But will this really bring our candidates happiness?

Industries with Correlations Between Average Weekly Salary and Happiness

Respondents were asked to score their level of happiness, with 0 being completely unhappy and 10 being completely happy.

The industries that showed a high correlation between average weekly earning and happiness levels were:

Retail, trade and repairs -92.01%Accommodation and food service activities – 88.91% Education – 88.59% Administrative and support service activities – 87.4% Manufacturing – engineering and allied industries – 86.3%

The industries with the lowest correlation were:

Mining and quarrying  – 22.15% Professional, scientific and technical activities – 26.18% Manufacturing – chemicals and made-made fibres – 33.22% Real estate activities – 33.68% Financial and insurance activities – 34.30%

Exact data as to why these answers were given was not collected, but we can take an educated guess. These roles that scored a low correlation are often highly demanding, stressful careers and due to this, a larger salary is given as compensation. However, as this pay does increase, happiness does not and this may be due to the physical and mental strain these employees undertake. The negative impacts on health in mining and quarrying is a good example of this.

This doesn’t mean those who scored a high correlation between average weekly earning and happiness are not in stressful roles, more so that these stress levels can be lessened with the benefit of higher wages.

Skill, trade and administrative roles see a higher correlation with average weekly salary and higher happiness levels.

Industries with Correlations Between Average Weekly Earnings and Anxiety

Anxiety was scored in the same manner as happiness, with 0 possessing no anxiety and 10 being highly anxious.

The industries who scored the highest correlation between average weekly earning and anxiety were:

Retail, trade and repairs – 74.52% Manufacturing – other – 72.07% Manufacturing – engineering and allied industries – 70.67% Education  – 68.51% Accommodation and food service activities – 68.04%

These correlations did not show the strong 80%+ that happiness reported but they are still high.

Most industries who reported higher happiness levels also reported high anxiety levels. Retail, trade and repairs reported the highest for both.

Unhappiness and anxiety are often mistaken for the same emotion, but this is not the case. We can be both anxious and happy in our lives. We can take from these results that as wages increase, so does job responsibility which causes rising anxiety levels.

Health and social work interestingly showed the lowest correlation at 53.40%. This industry is infamous for high levels of anxiety but as wages increase, anxiety does not.

Those That Reported as Living Comfortably or Completely Satisfied with Income Reported Higher Levels of Anxiety.

Income was scored on employees happiness levels with their wage, therefore, this was subjective to their own opinion. The scoring system was as follows:

Completely satisfied Mostly satisfied Somewhat satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied Somewhat dissatisfied Mostly dissatisfied Completely dissatisfied

How respondents are managing financially was broken into the following responses:

Living comfortably, Doing alright, Just about getting by, Finding it quite difficult, Finding it very difficult

Those who declared themselves as ‘completely satisfied’ with income showed a 65.68% correlation with higher levels of anxiety.

Those who are ‘living comfortably’ reported an even higher correlation with anxiety at 89.97%.

We can assume these higher-earning roles come with more job responsibility which equals higher anxiety. Remember, this does not mean unhappiness but shows those in higher-paid roles often suffer from high anxiety.

Correlation Between Bonuses and Happiness

Many employers offer bonuses to staff, this is to increase productivity and boost staff morale. However, the result of the survey shows that bonuses may not be giving the desired outcome.

When respondents were asked to report on their happiness in correlation with bonuses, the percentages were small and relatively inconclusive.

The industry with the highest correlation was construction, but this was still a weak 41%.

We could interpret this in a few ways, perhaps bonus sums are not high enough to make an impact on income and change happiness levels.

It could also be when it comes to performance-based bonuses, employees are putting themselves under strain to achieve targets to receive these bonuses. This extra stress could not justify the extra income.

Income Satisfaction and Happiness

You may believe that industries who reported high happiness levels and average weekly earnings would also score the same for income satisfaction.

This is not the case, income satisfaction can still be high for those on a more modest income.

The industries with the highest correlation between income satisfaction and happiness are:

Retail, trade and repairs – 87.81% Administrative and support service activities – 87.74% Education – 85.71% Accommodation and food service activities – 84.87% Health and social work – 81.98%

Those who showed the lowest correlation were:

Mining and quarrying  – 9.28% Professional, scientific and technical activities – 24.15% Manufacturing – chemicals and man-made fibres – 29.18% Financial and insurance activities – 29.46% Real estate activities – 29.95%

Income changes have a very low correlation with happiness for mining and quarrying, most likely due to poor working conditions, most works will endure.

Overall, we can see that yes money can increase happiness levels, but only within certain industries and only if we are willing to sacrifice anxiety levels to do so.

So next time your candidate obsesses over the wage, remember to really consider if they are willing to take on mental strain within the industry to do so.

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