Many mention salary as a reason to look elsewhere. So, what possibly could go wrong when you chase the money?
When Tom* was headhunted for a procurement specialist role at a major energy supplier, his eyes lit up. It was literally his dream job – and at a salary $30,000 higher than he was being paid.
What could possibly go wrong?
Tom resigned immediately and started planning the lavish holiday on which he’d now be able to take his family.
Yet less than 6 months later Tom found himself in my office, miserable.
It turned out that what had seemed like a lucrative move was anything but.
The long hours and high stress of his new role – combined with a tyrannical and workaholic boss – had made the situation untenable.
‘I’ve learnt the hard way,’ Tom told me, ‘that it’s not all about money.’
As general manager of The Source, I meet hundreds of talented procurement professionals every year.
Like Tom, many mention salary as one of the reasons they want to look elsewhere.
But I often tell candidates that money shouldn’t be the only reason for choosing a job. And in many cases it shouldn’t be an influencing factor at all.
Flexibility and well-being are key
Workplace satisfaction research conducted over the last decade tells us that, contrary to popular belief, salary isn’t one of the driving factors when it comes to happiness at work.
In fact, salary comes close to last on the list.
What makes us truly happy at work is, in fact, a combination of permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being and the feeling that we’re doing meaningful and interesting work.
We also need to feel respected at work.
We need and want our leaders to notice and listen to us.
And, to an extent, we want them to praise us for our efforts.
In Tom’s situation, he had ended up with none of these.
He wasn’t getting any respect. In fact, his new manager often berated him in front of other colleagues.
He also had little flexibility.
Despite the fact that the organisation had a strong policy on workplace flexibility, Tom’s workaholic manager made him feel like he could never take advantage of it.
Finally, the lack of flexibility, high expectations and poor management had a knock-on effect on Tom’s health and well-being.
He was stressed and tired all the time – and struggled to stay motivated.
Again, the organisation had a policy on employee well-being. But that hardly mattered to Tom, whose entire experience was being dictated by a manager he hated.
People leave their bosses, not their jobs
After talking to me about his situation, Tom quickly came to another realisation about his poor career move.
And this time it wasn’t about salary.
When you look at the drivers of workplace satisfaction, almost all can be achieved – or derailed – by your leader.
This is something that’s enshrined in fact: 75% of all people leave their bosses, not their jobs.
So if you think about it like that, risking leaving a good boss for the unknown can make the salary gain pale in comparison.
Sure, that extra money might get you a great holiday, help you pay off your debt or buy you the car you’ve always wanted, but what are you giving up in return?
Your job is a 40-hour-a-week, 48-week-per-year reality, and your career – which a manager can also make or break – is a lifelong endeavour.
After a few months of searching, we eventually placed Tom in a new role, with a leader I know will give him the career experience he wants and deserves.
But for all of you thinking of your next move this year, let this be a cautionary tale.
How much does salary really mean? And how much emphasis should you place on that against working for someone who holds the key to your workplace happiness?
I’d love to hear your experiences – please share them in the comments section below.
Interested in some more career advice? Whether you want to move up in your career, change industries, or even need some extra motivation for the new year (and new decade!), start 2020 off with a bang in our upcoming webinar – Don’t Quit Your Day Job. Register here.
Tony Megally is the General Manager of The Source, Australia’s leading procurement recruitment and executive search firm. If you’re looking to hire in the procurement space, or alternatively, you’d like to have a confidential chat about your next role, please contact Tony on +613 9650 6665 or via email on [email protected]
*Name changed to protect privacy