BreakingModern — You’ve probably heard of it: the magic annual income that correlates with maximum day-to-day happiness. First conceived in 2010, the so-called “happiness benchmark for annual income” — developed in an academic study by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton. It has increased from $75K to 83K after being adjusted for cost-of-living per state, writes Business Insider.
But what about those of us under 35? We’re only making a median salarey of $39,700 a year, according to PayScale.com and Millennial Branding, Gen-Y research and management consulting firms based in Boston.
Money’s Not Everything
Of course, there are many variables at work, and salary is not a sole predictor of happiness: cost of living, family size, work satisfaction and the disparity between generational values contribute to happiness, to name a few.
Happiness, it seems, is far more than the sum of dollars and cents — and this is particularly true for the younger generations.
[Workers between 18 and 35] also want to find purpose in their careers, which might not mean having the highest pay,” Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer of The Intelligence Group, a consumer insights and strategy group, told The Columbus Dispatch. “They want to be making meaning, not just money.
Besides, not all $83,000 incomes are created equal. Someone earning $83K a year for 80-hour weeks at a soul-sucking, morale-sapping, Dante’s-cubicle inferno can hardly be compared to, say, a work-from-home web designer who rakes in $83,000 annually by working flexible hours with a handful of clients.
A pound of feathers isn’t the same as a pound of tacks.
The distinction matters. “Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring,” according to a report by the Brookings Institution, a Washington D.C.-based independent-research and public-policy nonprofit.
So if salary isn’t the strongest predictor of workplace satisfaction, what is the factor that really will make us happy at work?
The New Workplace
In a nutshell, workers in our generation tend to seek work environments that provide flexibility, work-life integration, friendship, a sense of making a positive impact on the world and engagement in aiding social issues that they hold personally meaningful.
“[Young workers] were raised with a different perspective,” said Gutfreund. “Their boomer parents taught them to believe that their opinions are important.”
Workers 18-35 are poised to disrupt the future of work-life culture, as they will take up an estimated 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Cherished relics of Boomer and Gen-X values — such as productivity, high earnings and money-for-the-sake-of-money (damn the means!) — will take a backseat to what younger employees want at work.
Gutfreund told Forbes that The Intelligence Group has found of workers 18 to 35:
- Some 64 percent say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
- 74 percent want flexible work schedules.
- 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture than a competitive one.
- 88 percent want work-life integration, not balance. Integration.
This is consistent with a recent report by Millennial Branding, which found:
- 45 percent of workers 18025 will choose workplace flexibility over pay.
- 72 percent of so called Gen-X students (aged 35 to 50) consider “having a job where I can make an impact” to be key to their happiness.
- 71 percent of younger employees (18-35) want coworkers to be their “second family.”
A handful of employers are taking notice of these changing trends. Employers who are still holding onto the traditional 9-to-5 work paradigm may find themselves scratching their heads at what, exactly, makes us tick.