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5 minute read

Why a Bigger Salary Won’t Necessarily Make You Happier at Work

Discover the nuanced relationship between income and job satisfaction. Explore the factors that truly contribute to a fulfilling work life beyond the paycheque.

Are you feeling unhappy at work and thinking that a bigger paycheque would make everything better? That notion may hold if you’re severely underpaid, but where job happiness is concerned, there’s more to it than just the money factor.

More money = more job happiness?

Undeniably, your salary has a big impact on your quality of life. It will impact everything from the kinds of food you eat to where you live and the car you drive. But here’s an interesting info nugget: more money can help you feel somewhat happier, but it may not move the needle as much as you’d think. 

According to a study published in 2010 by Princeton University’s Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, after about $75,000 a year, your happiness somewhat plateaus even if your income increases.

So, it’s wise to consider a holistic approach to achieve job happiness beyond just the allure of a hefty paycheque.

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Four key factors that contribute to happiness at work

1. Work-life balance

If you’re having difficulty managing work and your personal life, you’re not alone. A 2022 study by recruitment agency Randstad reveals that 70% of Singaporeans said they had a poor work-life balance due to an overwhelming workload

While a job with a bigger salary affords you more things, it may also come with greater responsibilities and longer working hours. As the saying goes: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Prolonged work-related stress may even lead to burnout, affecting your overall well-being.

As it stands, there are some things that money can’t buy, such as quality time with your family or the freedom to pursue your hobbies. So, in considering a job switch or negotiating for a higher salary, it’s essential to factor in the impact on your work-life balance.

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2. Fulfillment and purpose 

Many of us spend most of our waking hours working. While we know the obvious answer to why we need to work, there may be times we question ourselves: What is the real purpose of working?

Feeling fulfilled and knowing the purpose of your work can significantly impact your overall happiness. Hatice Necla Kele?, a professor in the Department of Organizational Management at Bahçe?ehir University in Istanbul says, “Having a professional purpose and an identity gives your life meaning and motivation.” 

“Nothing gives you more energy than a clear purpose. Without one, even just getting out of bed every morning becomes a challenge.”

Don’t be too fixated on the salary numbers when considering job opportunities. Also, consider how well the role aligns with your values and long-term career goals.

Read More: How and Why It’s Important to Find Purpose at Work

3. Job perks and benefits

Often, when an individual looks for a job, the focus will be on the big three Ps: Pay, Position and Prospect. However, one P is equally important, if not more important, to consider when searching for a job – Perk. More precisely, your job perks. 

When choosing between a job with benefits versus high pay, it is essential to consider the entire package. The full scope of what you earn at a job also includes the company’s benefits.

A good benefits package shows that a company cares about its employees. Some companies even provide parental and wellness benefits on top of the conventional ones. 

4. Personal and professional growth

Upskilling is today’s buzzword, as Singapore’s workforce readies itself for the future of work and the digitalisation wave. The message is clear: Employees can no longer rest on their laurels but take proactive efforts to upskill or reskill to remain employable and bolster their job security.

Read More: In Good Company: 4 Reasons Why These Companies are Promoting Career Resilience for Employees

While the onus is primarily on you to develop your professional profile, working for a company that supports your career development will make the process easier. STMicroelectronics HR director Foo Kuo Yang shared with Workipedia by MyCareersFuture: 

“We anticipate, develop, and match our employees’ skills and profiles to our business needs, to reach the highest level of organisation performance, as well as maximising people’s employability. We provide our employees with opportunities for life-long learning through professional development and clear career evolution paths.”

Happiness at work: No one-size-fits-all solution

While a bigger salary may seem enticing, it’s important to recognise that true workplace happiness extends beyond monetary compensation. Whether you’re a jobseeker or a mid-career switcher, it’s essential to consider a holistic approach when evaluating job opportunities. 

If you’re unsure of where to start, fret not. Workforce Singapore has an array of platforms specially designed to help you achieve your career aspirations. Check them out!


If you want to improve your career health, this MyCareersFuture feature is designed to help you better plan your upskilling and career journey through personalised jobs and skills recommendations. 


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