This is how much we'd pay to be happy...

When it comes to work, we'd rather earn less to achieve true happiness

Hero image in post
Hero image in post

When it comes to work, we'd rather earn less to achieve true happiness

By Team Woo08 Jul 2022
2 mins read time
2 mins read time

There’s plenty of trade-offs to be made in this life. Go out or don’t go out, late night or early night, one good show on Netflix or ten terrible shows on Netflix, take the bins out now or later, this birthday drinks or that, one big holiday or three small ones…

But how about paying your way to happiness? Or at least sacrificing a bit of your salary to reach it?

A recent study found that most Britons would trade 10% of our salary to reach "above average" happiness.

Taking in the job-seeking habits of 23 million people from Canada, the US and the UK, an academic observed how those looking for work on avoided “unhappy firms”.

The recruitment website asked millions of its users if they "feel happy at work most of the time" to generate a score for various companies, putting that score onto job adverts for 10 months, according to The Guardian.

Photo: United Artists

In the UK, jobseekers surveyed by Ward said they would happily trade in 10.5% of their pay if it meant they got to work for a company with an above average happiness score of 75 out of 100.

George Ward, a researcher at the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research concluded that companies should “invest in organisational and management practices that are conducive to worker happiness”.

The new research comes hot on the heels of the Great Resignation, where, post-pandemic, people realised the brilliance of having a bit more time at home (not too much) and not working jobs that they hate.


The UK is also in the midst of a 4-day work week trial, where thousands of workers are trading in that fifth working day for leisure time. The downside is, there’s no guarantee that the third day of the weekend will give them "above average" happiness. The plus side is, they don’t have to lose any of their salary to do the 4-day week.

While not all companies want to do the 4-day week, or will take a while to enact it, the pressure is already on execs to start treating their staff a bit kinder.

As ward put it: "Executives say happiness is hugely important but when you ask them if they do anything, it is only about 25% that are doing anything,” he said. “This is tangible evidence they have incentives to improve the happiness of their workforce.”