Why salary isn’t everything – 7 things to consider during your job hunton 13 March 2023 for Graduates
Often times, when it comes to deciding which job to take, gross salary will be the determining factor. You might think that more money equals more happiness and a better quality of life, but that isn’t true. In fact, it might be the exact opposite – when more money means spending 80 hours a week doing something you hate, that’ll hardly be beneficial to your general sense of wellbeing.
Of course, you need enough to pay the bills and ideally you want to go out for a nice meal once in a while or go on vacation once a year without having to break out the calculator. But from a certain point onwards, there’s no extra happiness to be gained from earning more money. Other factors are more decisive for your wellbeing, such as a healthy work-life balance, moderate stress levels, being able to use your strengths and a company culture that feels like home.
Below, we’ll go into further detail on seven important job aspects besides the salary.
#1 Other benefits
Most importantly: compensation is so much more than your gross salary. There are other benefits to consider as well. These can be monetary, such as bonuses, profit share, company car, etc. But it doesn’t have to end there. Maybe your employer offers a flex income plan, giving you the liberty to handpick your benefits. (Maybe you’d rather have a public transportation pass, lease an electric bike and have some additional vacation days.)
Maybe they invest a lot in training and development, so you can continuously work on improving and expanding your skill set without having to do it on your own time and having to pay out of your own pocket.
Maybe there’s daycare or a gym at the office. Or a bar, so you can easily kick back and have a drink after work.
All of these benefits can improve your quality of life significantly, probably more than earning a bit more money!
#2 Quality of life
We spend a lot of time at work. Therefore, it’s important to like what we do. But—work isn’t everything. So it’s also important to look at what your quality of life would be outside of work. For instance, if you’re working an 80-hour week, there will be hardly any time left for family and hobbies. Or maybe you don’t need to work that much, but you have to be available at a moment’s notice. Make sure you know what’s expected of you so you can decide whether that’s a commitment you’re willing to make. Remember: time is money, and that goes for your time as well.
However, ever since the pandemic, employers are embracing a flexible schedule more and more. Flexibility can mean a number of things – being free to work from wherever you like, choosing your hours so that your work doesn’t clash with your private life, and so on. Figure out what’s important for you and then find out whether the employer can offer you those things. But remember: flexibility is a two-way street!
#3 Your stress levels
Everybody has an ideal stress level – a state of agitation that inspires your best focus and most productive work. Contrary to what you may think, having no stress at all isn’t necessarily a good thing. You might get bored easily or find that you’ve been staring at your screen for 8 hours but you haven’t really done anything useful. That’s not exactly a good or very motivating feeling to have at the end of a work day.
However, if you get the sense that your stress levels would skyrocket at your new job – because of the amount of work or hours, a lack of support staff, a toxic manager, etc. – then this employer is probably not a good fit for you and it won’t matter much that you’re bringing home the big bucks.
#4 Your strengths
A Gallup analysis (2015) has revealed that people who use their strengths every day are three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life, six times more likely to be engaged at work, 8% more productive and 15% less likely to quit their jobs. The research also shows that people who use their strengths outperform those who don’t. So if you don’t get to use your strengths, you’ll end up sucking at a job you hate.
Don’t believe us? Imagine being a creative, out-of-the-box-thinker, who enjoys leaving the trodden paths and experimenting with new ways of doing things, always searching for improvement. Would you like to get stuck in a corporate treadmill of endless processes and procedures and end up doing things the way they were done twenty years ago because it’s impossible to get anything innovative past the risk-averse board of directors? Even if they pay you a lot of money? Didn’t think so.
#5 Your values
If you think you’ll feel compromised at this new high-paying job, don’t do it. No amount of money can buy a clear conscience, or can offset the negative feelings resulting from doing work that’s contrary to your personal beliefs, priorities and ethics.
Find out what the company’s values are and whether they align with yours. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s not a good fit.
#6 Company culture
Similar to a company’s values, it’s also important to figure out what the culture is like. Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees. It is evident in the way people at the organization interact with each other, how decisions are made, which decisions are made, leadership styles, and so on.
How do you find out a company’s culture? We’ve dedicated an entire blog post to this, but here are the headlines:
- First, browse the company’s website, particularly the ‘About us’ section
- Find out if you know anyone who works there, through LinkedIn for example
- Check out employee reviews of the company on websites like Glassdoor
- Ask the right questions during your job interview (also the topic of one of our blog posts)
Why is company culture important? Simple: if you work somewhere where the culture is a good fit, you’ll develop better relationships with your co-workers, you’ll be happier and more productive. Alternatively, if the culture doesn’t fit, you are likely to take less pleasure in your work, you’ll have a harder time getting along with your colleagues and you’ll be less efficient and less happy.
#7 The commute
First off, we want to stress that you shouldn’t write off an employer merely because of their location. There’s not much chance you’ll find your dream job within a 10-kilometer radius of your home. Employers offer remote working options more and more frequently nowadays, meaning an office in Brussels doesn’t have to mean having to commute there every single day.
That being said, the right commute can actually make you happier and healthier. And while driving is the most popular option, it is actually the most stressful way to get to and from work. In order to have a commute that improves your quality of life, it’s not only important how you get from A to B, but also how you spend your time.
Maybe you can cycle, or take an electric bike for a longer distance, or a foldable bike that you can take on the train. This way, you get some exercise and your brain will be fairly oxygenized when you get to work, promising a more productive work day.
Or maybe you take public transportation. In that case, it might be tempting to get some work done on the way, but it’s actually better to allocate this time to yourself. Catch up on your favorite podcast, put on a good playlist, or read a book, and you’ll feel rested and refreshed by the time you get to work or home again.
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