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Influencers

The secret link between money and happiness

Can money buy happiness? Should salaries stay secret? (Getty Images)

Can money buy happiness? Should salaries stay secret? (Getty Images)

You’ve heard the saying, “money can’t buy happiness,” but what if a certain amount of money actually does make you happier? And don’t people feel unhappy when they learn a colleague is earning more money for doing the same amount of work?

At the very least, money, or lack of it, can bring some level of joy or despair.

Several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in this week on why salaries shouldn’t be secret and just how much money brings happiness. Here’s what two of them had to say.

Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion

“Very few people like to talk about how much money they make — especially not people who earn a lot of money,” wrote Salmon in his post Why Salaries Shouldn’t Be Secret, in the wake of news that recently-departed New York Times editor Jill Abramson had started asking questions about the pay discrepancy between her and her predecessor.  “Since companies tend to be run by people who earn a lot of money, the result is a culture of silence and secrecy when it comes to pay.”

There are several surprising reasons “secrecy surrounding pay is generally a bad idea for any organisation,” Salmon wrote.

 “For one thing, secrecy about pay is bad for women, who are worse at asking for raises than men are. If men secretly ask for raises and secretly get them, while women don’t, then that helps to explain, at least in part, why men end up earning more than women,” Salmon wrote. “Secrecy around pay is also a great way to allow managers to — consciously or unconsciously — play favorites with their staff.”

“We’ve all worked in companies, I’m sure, where the only way to get a substantial raise is to confront management with a job offer from somewhere else,” he added. “That’s clearly a dreadful way to run a company, since it gives all employees a huge incentive to spend a lot of time looking for work elsewhere, even if they’re very happy where they are.”

“If you work for a company where everybody knows what everybody else is earning, then it’s going to be very easy to see what’s going on. You’ll see who the stars are, you’ll see what kind of skills and talent the company rewards,” he wrote. “You’ll also see whether men get paid more than women, whether managers are generally overpaid, and whether behaviour like threatening to quit is rewarded with big raises. What’s more, because management knows that everybody else will see such things, they’ll be much less likely to do the kind of secret deals which are all too common in most companies today.”

Bruce Kasanoff, ghostwriter and speaker

Maybe money does buy happiness. Or some money, that is. At least that’s the case according to recent research from Princeton, yielded from a survey of 450,000 people.

The research found that emotional well-being is fully realised at an annual income of about $75,000. But not more.

“In other words, when it comes to money, there is a glass ceiling for its ability to bring you happiness,” wrote Kasanoff in his post $75,000 Buys Happiness; More Money Does Not. “This makes intuitive sense; if you can't afford a decent place to live or enough food to feed your family, more money substantively improves your situation. But few would agree with the statement that the happiest moments of their life was/were when they had the most money.”

The researchers examined emotional well-being, rather thanlife evaluation, wrote Kasanoff. “Emotional well-being is what they equate with happiness. It involves the emotional experiences you have on a day-to-day basis... being delighted, sad, frustrated, excited, lonely or fascinated,” he wrote.

What does all of this mean, then, in terms of money and happiness?

“If you double your salary, say to $150,000, you will probably increase your intellectual assessment of your life,” Kasanoff wrote. “But doubling your salary won't necessarily give you more joy, day-to-day. It won't make you more excited by your work or help you feel closer to your friends and family.”

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