A Pay Raise May Actually Make You More Unhappy at Work: Study

Unhappy at work? That pay raise you’ve been pursuing might not make you happier.

A recent WorkWise study shows those who make north of $86,000 per year are less satisfied with their job than those earning less… sometimes far less. As you can see in the chart below, nearing or cresting the six-figure mark doesn’t always leave you happy.

WorkWise data is gathered from all types of industries, and it notes government workers, real estate employees, and marketing professionals were more likely to rate their job highly overall. Retail employees were, perhaps unsurprisingly, the group that ranked their job satisfaction the lowest.

Once we get past the $56,000 hurdle, job satisfaction jumps dramatically, and stays on a steady upward trajectory until the $86,000 mark, where it suddenly drops off.

In an odd twist, people reported more money would keep them in a job they disliked. As WorkWise notes: “This didn’t surprise us very much, simply because a job that people dislike naturally leads to working exclusively for a paycheck. It only makes sense that people would want their paycheck to be as big as possible.”

While this data doesn’t focus exclusively on tech, it definitely encompasses the industry. On the bright side, the survey shows tech pros see a “clear path for promotion” more often than those in other industries. Tech pros also have a low reporting percentage of communication issues amongst teams.

Tech pros still want more out of their companies. Our own anonymous survey shows most (21 percent) are ready for a promotion, lest they quit their jobs. The 2018 Dice Salary Survey shows 42 percent anticipated switching jobs, with 63 percent of that group willing to jump ship for more money. (We should also point out that the average tech pro salary is at the top end of WorkWise’s chart.)

So maybe more cash isn’t the answer. As salaries in tech level off, perks are becoming an important negotiation tool for employees. As tech pros have told Dice, the most sought-after are better health benefits packages and the ability to work remotely, with equity in the company ranking third. Keep that in mind if you’re not happy at work; if your bosses stonewall you on a pay increase, you may be able to negotiate other terms of your employment.

9 Responses to “A Pay Raise May Actually Make You More Unhappy at Work: Study”

  1. Joshua D Parker

    Correlation does not imply causation, Jesus this article is stupid. Consider maybe that those people took jobs they didn’t enjoy because they wanted higher pay, and others took jobs which provides more job satisfaction despite less pay. This is not how statistics works

    • BJ Levin

      Short of insinuating an elitist conspiracy to convince the masses that “poor is better,” I agree with Joshua’s evaluation of this article. I have worked for a lot of companies over the years and have never been overpaid, not ever. Job dissatisfaction has always come from busting one’s hump and never getting compensated properly. Let’s be honest, the reason one leaves a job is because no amount of a rise can make it suck less.

      • Just because someone makes more money doesn’t mean they are not still over worked and under compensated. But being over worked and undercompensated at $86-$96K a year salary possibly has greater demands, workload, responsibility, stress, expectations, challenges of people management of people, and accountability at a higher level for things. I made $52 k as operations support on a great team. 2 years later I was a manager at a poorly run company making $75 k, and I was far less happy. The salary went up but not near as much as the workload and stress. My dissatisfaction increased with my salary and I felt over worked and undercompensated every step of the way up the ladder.

  2. Makes little sense and, IMHO, a poorly done study. In the same article that the chart came from, the top reason that would keep employees in a job they disliked was… wait for it… more money.

  3. Michael Pedro

    I have a computer science degree I work at the weather office and I have a middle school math teaching ticket. now I could work using my computer science degree and make probably double the money I make now. however, the more money would entail more traveling, working longer overall hours and an overall heavier workload the weather office is easy fun and non-taxing work and pays more than a teacher. Tom Brady takes less money to play for the Patriots so other players can get more money and give Brady and the Patriots a better chance to win the championship every year and those same principles apply to what this article says. I have always felt you as a person should look at work as something you enjoy doing and if not you need to be working on something that will. you will live longer