Money Can Buy You Stress A global survey says too high a salary doesn't bring employee happiness; appreciation, fairness and pride in the organization do

By Pooja Singh

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Too much salary can give you sleepless nights, especially if it's $150,000 or more. That's what a survey of 23,000 employees across the world suggests.

The survey by global recruiting company Robert Half actually found out that people who earn an annual income of $50,000-$74,999 are the least stressed as compared to those earning $150,000 or above. Considering the state of global economy and rising expenditure, the findings are certainly surprising but they show that money is not really the answer to everything. Here are some other interesting findings of the study:

Stress Levels

Australian workers, who have the reputation of being laidback, are the least stressed in the world, after the Dutch, thanks to their high quality of life and better healthcare. The British are the third least stressed followed by the Americans, Belgians, Canadians, French, and Germans, respectively.

Where It Hurts
Entrepreneurs should make a special note of the following: Stress is more prevalent in the healthcare, manufacturing and human resources, while, in comparison, working life is a bit of a breeze for those in the finance, IT, administration and accounting sectors.

Job Satisfaction

It's known that less stress at work means a happy employee, which translates to better quality and productivity. There's enough scientific evidence to back this. A study published in 2009 in the Journal Of Applied Psychology found that people with high levels of on-the-job satisfaction "volunteer for optional tasks, help others and are more cooperative compared to unhappy workers". Engaged employees are 21% more productive than the non-engaged ones, a 2013 research by management consultant company Gallup, "State of The Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insight for Business Leaders Worldwide", stated. Happy employee is also a healthy one. Engaged employees have comparatively fewer chronic problems, eat healthy and exercise more often, it said.

Positive Emotions

What exactly is happiness at a workplace? It is an "emotional word" that is "shorthand for a great experience", says Nic Marks, a leading happiness expert and founder of London-based company Happiness Works in the report by Robert Half, "It's Time We All Work Happy: The Secrets Of The Happiest Companies And Employees". He summarizes happiness as the "quality of experiences in our everyday work—essentially, whether we are feeling good and doing well," adding that happier employees are more innovative.

Marks offers three core emotions that indicate happiness at the workplace: enthusiasm, interest, and contentment. He points out that enthusiasm helps "people create and seize opportunities", while interest helps them commit to tasks that might be "challenging in the short term but have medium or long-term benefits" and finally, contentment helps employees reflect on "what went well and how the same type of success can be duplicated." These positive emotions, he says, help expand their thinking and awareness, making them more creative.

Success Mantra

So what drives happiness at work? Well, it's definitely not money. According to the "It's Time We All Work Happy: The Secrets Of The Happiest Companies And Employees", the top three drivers are "pride in their organization", "feeling appreciated for the work they do", and being treated with "fairness and success".

Clearly, happiness of an employee is vital for the long-term health and success of any organization. But not every employee has the same needs, goals, and preferences. There are, however, some factors that employers should take into consideration that directly affect happiness of the workers.

The report says the employer should ensure that the person being asked to join a team should be a right fit. "When you hire people who mesh well with the workplace culture, they acclimate with greater ease" and begin making useful contributions quickly, it mentions. A poor fit, on the other hand, might end up hurting the morale of the team. Empowering staff by providing support, and not micromanaging, can also help workers develop critical skills and make them feel more invested. Most simply, appreciating an employee's work can make all the difference.

Every entrepreneur has the key to their workers' happiness. They just have to use it.

Pooja Singh

Former Features Editor, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific


A stickler for details, Pooja Singh likes telling people stories. She has previously worked with Mint-Hindustan Times, Down To Earth and Asian News International-Reuters. 

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