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Maryke Penman
Acumen Republic for Hudson
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Media Release

All I Want for Christmas Is Job Happiness

Hudson survey shows employees who are paid at or above market rate and those who receive bonuses, are more likely to be happy in their jobs, but expert says money is just a band-aid solution

New Zealand, 22 December 2016 – New research shows a direct correlation between salary and how happy an employee feels at work, but Hudson New Zealand Regional General Manager, Roman Rogers, warns money doesn’t always buy happiness.

According to the results of Hudson’s latest employment insights survey of employers and employees 1, half of those surveyed are currently happy in their jobs. Of those who are paid at or above market rate and who received a bonus, the number who said they were either happy or very happy was 67 and 55 per cent respectively.

Although, Mr Rogers says, money is just a short term fix and what employees are really seeking is recognition and a more accurate gauge on their performance.

“Society has been conditioned to believe that salary precedes happiness at work - once we get a pay rise, we’ll be happy. But it’s a bit like eating a cheeseburger, for 30 seconds it feels fantastic, but then you feel empty an hour later.

“Salary isn’t the only answer; it’s one of many things people need to be happy in their jobs. But even with the right pay it’s only a short fix and people need to see a clear pathway of progression in their roles.”

Happy employees tend to be higher performers and are therefore in a better position to earn more, he says. In order to feel truly happy in their jobs, employees should be seeking fulfilment from a whole range of factors, one of which is a sense of good performance.

Other factors influencing fulfilment were released in the Hudson Report Forward Focus 2 earlier this year that revealed the biggest pull factors for employees, aside from the right salary, were in order: work-life balance, career progression, cultural fit and a manager they respect.

For a long time salary has been a commonly accepted factor to indicate an employee’s performance, but it shouldn’t be the only one, Mr Rogers says.

“There’s a piece missing around the way in which employers are giving feedback in ways other than financial benefit. It’s actually the absence of those other indicators that makes money more important because it’s often an employee’s only measure of how they’re doing.”

He says the average six month or 12 month review process is fundamentally flawed and organisations should complement these long periods with regular, personal catch-ups at short intervals in order to foster the psychological contract between the manager and their employee, and engage people more deeply in their business.

“That opens the door for more of a coaching relationship, centred on career progression and development of the employee so they are benefiting more long-term,” Mr Rogers says.

The survey shows the biggest challenge for managers is keeping their employees engaged and motivated, and once an employee feels undervalued it can be a slippery slope to resignation, Mr Rogers says.

“If you have that regular, personal contact, the engagement level and loyalty of the employee goes through the roof. Once you build that psychological contract it’s incredibly hard to walk away from,” Mr Rogers says.

True happiness within the workplace can boost productivity by around 31% and accuracy of task by 19% 3. But when an employee feels as though they’re fundamentally undervalued, that’s when the slide starts to occur.

Of the employees surveyed, 40% believed they were being underpaid, and for many, they will begin passive or active job seeking without discussing their unhappiness with their employer, Mr Rogers says.

“It is a major trigger for them to leave and we know that there is a large portion of the workforce that will never have that conversation and just vote with their feet. This should be a huge concern for employers”.

Open and regular conversations are vital to achieving happiness and productivity on all levels, he says. Employers should be actively seeking feedback from employees around their ambitions and empowering them to find career pathways within the business. They should be looking at the bigger picture outside of just the pay packet, including how they can give employees a sense of contribution, a positive working culture and good relationships with their team.

“That longer term burn comes when employees have a clear sense of what good performance looks like in their role, what they’re required to do in order to achieve it and whether it aligns with the things that interest them personally and professionally. That’s the stuff that really counts,” Mr Rogers says.

– ENDS –

1  Hudson Salary & Employment Insights Survey NZ, November 2016 (839 employers and 690 candidates)
2  The Hudson Report: Forward Focus 2016 (1,286 employees and over 1,188 employers)
3  Positive Intelligence by Shawn Anchor, Harvard Business Review - January – February 2012

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