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Download data: Changing jobs increases salary, but not happiness

For many IT professionals, changing jobs results in a higher salary. However, accepting a high-paying position without considering other factors may not lead to career happiness.

Everyone strives for more happiness at work. However, achieving job satisfaction is not always easy, but it is certainly worth striving for.

Over the past few years, Spiceworks and Aberdeen Strategy & Research have collaborated on an ongoing job satisfaction survey to uncover insights into the happiness of IT workers. They identified five key factors that influence happiness at work: supportive management, opportunities for career growth, company culture, rewarding work and salary.

In this article we delve deeper into the insights we have gathered about the relationship between money and happiness.

The best way to increase salary
Conversations among IT professionals in the Spiceworks community often reveal dissatisfaction with the relatively low pay for their valuable work. Our recent 2024 Job Satisfaction Survey shows that many workers are currently looking for a job to secure higher wages.

More than half of the participants in the study have looked for a new job or changed jobs in the past two years. The top two reasons respondents sought new opportunities were:

  • 70% – Salary increase
  • 65% – Opportunities for career growth

Most IT professionals surveyed (64%) believe that switching jobs is the best way to secure a higher salary. The likelihood of holding this belief varies by age, organization size, and recent job changes.

Agreement with the statement, “Changing jobs is the easiest way to increase your salary,” among IT professionals:

  • 74% of Millennials vs. 62% of Boomers and 60% of Gen X
  • 74% of IT pros in Enterprises (1000+ employees) vs. 56% in small businesses (<100 employees)
  • 73% among those who changed jobs in the last two years vs. 51% of IT pros who didn’t look for a job

How much can job changers win?
Of recent IT job switchers, 63% reported receiving higher pay in their new role, compared to 20% who saw a salary decrease and 16% whose salary remained the same. Most people who received a higher salary saw their income grow by more than 10%.

But did the salary increase lead to more happiness? Surprisingly, that often didn’t happen.

Our research has shown that the old saying ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is true. Participants who changed jobs in the past two years were less likely to report being happy at work (37%) than the average (52%). Plus, many are already considering their next move: 42% of recent job changers are considering leaving again.

Why can’t money buy happiness?
Spiceworks and Aberdeen Strategy & Research have found that rewarding work, career opportunities, supportive management, company culture and salary are the most important factors influencing workplace happiness.

While every factor contributes to overall happiness, satisfaction in just one area – such as salary – without satisfaction in other areas does not lead to happy employees. For example, some employees are happy despite low wages because other factors compensate for this.

By comparing the answers of satisfied survey respondents who are dissatisfied with their salary with those of dissatisfied respondents who are satisfied with their salary, important trends have emerged.

The happy group with unsatisfactory pay were significantly more likely to report:

  • Satisfaction with company culture
  • Feeling connected to colleagues
  • Having supportive peers
  • Having bosses that set them up for success
  • Managing a reasonable workload
  • Easily finding similar job opportunities
  • Feeling their career helps achieve personal goals

What should you pay attention to in a new job to be happy?
I repeat: money does not necessarily buy happiness. When looking for a new job, salary should not be the only consideration. The job interview is also an opportunity for candidates to assess the employer.

If you want to be happy in your next role, consider asking these questions:

  • How does management set workers up for success?
  • What does the career growth path look like in this role?
  • What’s unique about the company culture?
  • Why are employees proud to work here?
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