February 11, 2019
Career Happiness: What Matters Most?
by Kris Gibson
Everyone wants something out of their career; I mean, that is why you go to work. It has long been assumed, and with a degree of accuracy, that money is the driving force. While the financial component remains a strong indicator of career happiness, it is not the only thing that matters to most people today. As a recruiter, I meet hundreds of people every year who are looking for a new position and/or company. This affords me a unique opportunity to learn not only what is lacking in their current situation that has prompted them to look elsewhere, but also be there as they weigh alternative options available to them and decide on where they want to work, and why.
So, if it isn’t all about the Benjamins, then what is it about?
1. Compensation Package
Tried and true. Money remains a key element in the decision-making process and continues to influence a person’s happiness in his or her career. Contrary to the past, salary and bonus are not the only components. Health insurance, contributions to HSA accounts, car allowance, phone, parking, train passes, toll passes, and a host of other financial perks all inform the interpretation of a compensation package and its relative value.
2. Soft Benefits
This is a newer concept born of a need to label the less tangible or non-monetary benefits a company might offer. “Soft benefits” is a blanket term used to cover everything from flexible work hours, working from home all or part of the time, and time off for volunteering to bring-your-pet-to-work days and standing workstations. While the list of soft benefits offered is wildly varied, what seems to be constant is that now more than ever, people want them. Soft benefits are factored in heavily when accepting an offer or weighing happiness in a career.
3. Sense of Purpose – Connection to a Job or Organization
I told myself I would be able to get through this without using the dreaded “M-word” but the reality is, the value of being connected or having a sense of purpose has grown exponentially as Millennials have taken a more prominent role in the workforce. It isn’t exclusive to Millennials though, today more and more people want to feel a connection to their work. They want to be passionate about what they do, who they do it for, and who they are doing it with. Having a purpose or connection adds a lot of value for an increasingly large portion of the workforce and plays an important role in hiring and retention for today’s organizations.
From my experience these three components are far and away the most important to today’s workforce. Of course, everyone would love to get everything they want but seldom is that possible. What’s been interesting to watch over the past decade is how the importance of things has seemingly shifted. Ties are no longer broken by dollars in the way they would have been before. It is not uncommon to see people take less money, far less in some cases, in favor of other things they value more in their career.