News flash! Researchers have discovered that, when it comes to job satisfaction, money matters more than a warm-fuzzy boss or an office decorated like a fern bar. “Conventional wisdom,” we’re told, has it that a pleasant environment and an understanding boss are more important to worker happiness than compensation.
New York Times columnist Paul Brown, citing the results of a survey reported in Family Business Agenda, reveals the top five keys to job satisfaction:
- Job security
- Flexibility to balance work and life issues
- Ability to communicate effectively with management
I have to allow that the Great Desert University has given me and my staff some mighty nice office space, as campus space goes. It’s in an old building called back out of condemnation, but IMHO much nicer than the proud new concrete and glass blocks the more privileged occupy: we get a big atrium full of tropical plants with an amazing flowering tree right outside our window. And for that we are all grateful.
The decent health insurance and the generous vacation allowance go a long way toward encouraging me to stay on the job, as does the fact that the university has a policy that encourages telecommuting. So does my low-key dean, who does not micromanage but stays out of the way so I can do my job effectively.
Ah, but yes, money matters. The late great switch from bimonthly to biweekly pay did nothing for my morale, nor did I notice any of my staff dedicating a dance to spring to the wisdom of this decision. Twenty weeks of incorrect paychecks didn’t help much, either. And when Barack Obama proposed to exempt the low-income elderly from taxes and then defined “low income” as exactly my salary, well . . . that was alarming. If I were ten or fifteen years younger, I’d be looking for another job right now.
Because Arizona is a right-to-work state, pay is relatively low compared to other urbanized American states. For educators, this phenomenon is enhanced by the fact that the legislature has historically underfunded education.
GDU has justified its pauperly salaries by telling prospective faculty that living in a resort climate is worth the difference, and besides, it’s less costly to live here because you don’t have to buy all those winter clothes. (Yeah. Recruiters have actually said that with a straight face!) But the truth is, the cost of living in the Phoenix metropolitan area-the fifth-largest city in the country-is no lower than in other major U.S. cities, with the exception of grand urbs such as New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Prices for housing within reasonable driving distance of work are comparable to or higher than housing prices in most large cities. Gas is almost $3 a gallon. Food is expensive, and because sprawl has run most farmers out of business, pickings are mighty slim in farmer’s markets. The cost of one power company’s electricity is said to be the highest in the nation. So while salaries are low, it’s no cheaper to live here than in places where pay is better. To my mind, that translates to “lower standard of living.”
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could conclude otherwise, or fail to see how much money matters.
Am I all wet? What keeps you on your job? And what do you see as the greatest contributor to your job satisfaction?