Boss Lady

3 reasons money can’t buy happiness at work


When I was younger I left a secure and reasonable paying job so that I could take on a lower paying opportunity, in an industry I felt passionate about. My parents thought I was crazy, and so did the managers I reported to at the time.  

Within twelve months I’d doubled my salary. What was really important was that I was doing work I loved, in a team of people who inspired me, and I was happy.

Money doesn’t buy happiness. After 20 years in Human Resources I can tell you that employees who accept counter offers still leave within 3-6 months. This happens because money is never the main reason why people start looking for new opportunities.  

Likewise, people who accept jobs they aren’t passionate about for money tend to leave within six months. Once our need for financial security is met we then look for fulfil other needs; the need to connect with like-minded colleagues; the ability to achieve and progress; and the need to feel challenged.

That’s not to say that money isn’t important. You can’t pay your bills with hugs. To have a long and happy career it’s important to take a balanced approach to your career choices.  

1. Money doesn’t buy you friends

When I accepted a role with my current company, pac executive, I primarily made the decision based upon the people and the culture. I knew that we had shared values around putting people first, and I trusted the leadership team to deliver on promises.  

Once we have enough money to pay the bills we look to our relationships for fulfilment. That’s why social connection is an important factor in our happiness at work. When we spend 8 or more hours per day, five days per week at work, it’s important that we are surrounded by people we respect.  

If you are in a company surrounded by people you don’t respect and value, it may be time to look for new opportunities. When interviewing for new roles, try to get an understanding of who you will be working for and with.  

2. Money alone doesn’t give you a sense of achievement

Two questions you should ask yourself when deciding on the direction of your career are:

  • What do you enjoy?
  • What are you great at?

When you have a role that provides you with opportunities to work on things you are passionate about, and to work from a place of strength you are more likely to be engaged and happy. If you’re happy you’re more likely to be successful.  

These two things aren’t always the same. I love singing but I’m not great at it, I’m great at booking travel but I don’t love it. Having a mix of the two in a role allows you to be challenged and to kick goals consistently.  

3. Money doesn’t buy you a balanced lifestyle

Work is a series of highs and lows.  Some days you’ll win, and other days you’ll lose.  If you don’t have a life to go home to, the highs and lows will have a deeper impact upon your happiness and in turn your ability to deal with challenges.  

Make sure your job doesn’t steal your happiness.  That is, the important time you spend with friends, family and on your health and wellbeing.  Choose a role that will allow you to have balance- whatever that may look like for you.

To determine the right choices for your career ask yourself these six questions.    

  • What do I want for my career in the long term?  (Set goals)
  • What career opportunities am I looking for right now? (Be open to professional development opportunities)
  • What have I enjoyed most about my work history thus far?  (Try and do more of those things)
  • What have I enjoyed least?  (Delegate and decline these things)
  • What type of people do I love working with?  (Spend more time with these people)
  • What type of people steal my energy?  (Spend less time with these people)

The answers will help you decide which career opportunities to accept and which to decline.

About Cholena Orr

Cholena Orr, Director of pac executive Human Capital, is a business builder who is passionate about mindfulness and lifting people up. She heads pac executive Human Capital - a training, coaching and consulting business offering a range of models designed to support Human Capital needs throughout the business lifecycle; from clarifying strategy and goals through to working with individuals to help them become more resilient.

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