A bigger salary doesn’t equal more job satisfaction, study finds

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Four in ten UK adults feel that a higher salary would increase their job satisfaction. However, a new study has revealed that more money does not actually buy happiness where work is concerned.

The research, which was conducted by online printing specialists instantprint, compared data on average weekly wages in 32 major UK cities and towns with job satisfaction levels.

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Of the top 10 UK places that ranked highest for job satisfaction, eight have average weekly earnings that are below the country’s national average¹ of £611 for full-time employees (approx. £31,772 pa).

In fact, in the place where the most workers claim to be ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs, the East Midlands town of Northampton, the average weekly salary is just £574.

Despite earning 6% lower than the national average, almost half (48%) of those working in Northampton said they feel ‘very satisfied’ by their current job role.

It was a similar story in Sunderland, where more than a third (38%) of employees here said they are ‘very happy’ with their current job, despite the mean weekly salary of £513 being 16% lower than the national average.

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City / Town% of workers who are 'very satisfied' in their jobAverage gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in the cityHow their wage compares to national average weekly wage

Despite being the highest earners, bringing in £820 per week on average, just a quarter (26%) of workers in central London feel satisfied in their job.

So, if it isn’t money that makes us happy at work, what is it? Well, instantprint’s survey of 2,000 UK employees revealed that a harmonious team (36%) and a good work-life balance (21%) are key.

Other key factors likely to improve the job satisfaction of Brits included being able to work tasks in general (31%), providing flexible working hours (25%), nurturing a positive workplace culture (23%).

Using the data they’d collected, instantprint also ranked the ‘UK’s happiest working cities’ overall. Overall, Manchester came out on top, with more than a quarter (27%) of employees based in the northern metropolis rating their work satisfaction level as being ‘very high’ (5/5). The average weekly wage for workers in the Northern city is in line with the UK average at £610.

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Central London and Oxford followed closely behind in the top twenty table.

The ‘Happiest Working Towns and Cities’ in the UK 

  1. Manchester – scoring 86/100 in the research
  2. Central London – 85/100
  3. Oxford – 81/100
  4. Cambridge – 77/100
  5. Bristol – 76/100
  6. Liverpool – 72/100
  7. Edinburgh – 70/100
  8. Chelmsford – 69 /100
  9. Newcastle – 69/100
  10. Derby – 68/100

At the bottom end of the table was Durham, scoring just 11 out of a possible 100 points for worker happiness. Other locations that scored poorly were Middlesborough (13/100) and Derry (14/100).

Laura Mucklow, Head of instantprint, commented on the findings: “While it’s great to see a substantial part of the nation is highly satisfied with their current position, our research has shown that sadly this is not the case for everyone.

“We believe it's key for employers to ensure all workers feel like their contribution to the team is valued, and that they’re being offered the right kind of benefits and perks, as well as a competitive salary. This can have a massive impact on the way employees feel about their role day to day and ultimately increase work satisfaction levels, which are key to retaining the best talent.”