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Not happy at work? A pay cut might help

We’re always taught that money can’t buy happiness at work.

But while it’s true that you can’t order a jar of happiness on Amazon Prime, you may be able to put a price tag to it after all.

A recent study from MIT revealed that a majority of UK job seekers would take a pay cut of up to 10.5% if it meant greater happiness at work. When we deduct that from the average national salary of £32,000, it seems you can buy happiness for just £3,360 (though I for one would argue that you can get short-term happiness for £4.50 at selected supermarkets in the form of a packet of Little Moons Ice Cream Mochi).

The study, which was done by the university’s Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research, surveyed 23 million workers from the UK, US, and Canada, concluding that candidates were more likely to apply for companies with an above-average happiness score of 75 out of 100.

In this case, happiness at work was measured in terms of work-life balance, social relationships, enjoyment, and a sense of purpose, with pay and benefits coming in much lower on the list of contributing factors.

All of this comes at a time when employees (and some employers) are pushing for better well-being support at work. Last month alone saw Peter McGetterick, Chairman of the British Safety Council, urge companies to put well-being practices on par with health and safety, as it emerged that nearly a third of workers felt their needs weren’t being met by their employer

Shunning workplace happiness not only leads to dissatisfied workers – it could also affect company performance. Businesses that are consistently named the ‘best companies to work for’ have outperformed the market over the past 25 years, especially during times of crisis. So a successful well-being policy could be the difference between sinking or swimming.

While there have been positive moves toward improving work-life balance, such as the introduction of a four-day week, Qatalog’s CEO and Founder Tariq Rauf has said that these quick fixes can’t be seen as a “magic bullet”. 

“Without trust, a four-day week is unlikely to do anything for a team’s wellbeing, just as working from home only benefits mental health when employees are protected from the chaos of pointless Zoom calls, endless Slack chatter, and splurging working hours."

“One of the great lessons of the pandemic is that knowledge workers [are happier] when they have the freedom to arrange their workloads and schedules in line with their own needs,” he continued. “Without being constantly checked in on by their superiors, they have the space for renewed creativity, focus, and calm. And this, in turn, boosts the company’s bottom line.”

That’s why at Qatalog, we create everything with true flexibility in mind. With our Work Hub, you can centralize everything you need to run your business in one place; employees can access important context at their fingertips and collaborate asynchronously, so there’s less pressure to conform to one rigid schedule. And above all, trust should be a number one priority.

Being happy at work shouldn’t have to come at the cost of a pay cut. So while the importance of it is a testament to the priorities of UK workers, these findings are just indicative of a wider well-being crisis at play in the workplace.

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