Why people, not pay, are the key to a happy job

Back in the 1950s, the nearest you got to workplace culture was boardroom whiskies and (highly inappropriate) dalliances with the secretary.

Fast forward to today, however, and a great environment is the holy grail of modern office life.

Read more: This woman quit her high-flying job to live in a van

We want organic coffee and flexible hours. We crave sleek hangout areas and a can-do ethos.

Above all, we need brilliant people – as a new study from job search site Indeed reveals.

happy job

Researchers from the website surveyed 2,502 EU adults who were either job-searching or had been recently hired.

More than half of us would turn down a pay rise if it meant working with people that we didn’t like, the results show.

A further 52% of people have a best friend at work, and over a fifth (21%) consider good relationships with colleagues to be the cornerstone of job satisfaction.

Read more: Want a happy career? Replace what with why

This compares to just 12% who believe pay to be the most important element of a satisfying role.

Driving home the value of workplace culture further, two thirds of people (67%) would reapply for a position at a company following an excellent interview experience if they were unsuccessful the first time round.

happy job

Of course, salary is still a key consideration in finding a good job.

At a time when the average house price is more than seven times the average annual salary in the UK, and many people are caught in a low pay culture, what you take home in your pay check can be critical.

And yet this latest research is more evidence of a tidal shift towards the meaning of workplace happiness in recent years.

Read more: Why everyone should be a career chameleon

Increasingly, we are placing companionship and recognition above the benefits of landing a big salary. We’re also more attuned to that insidious dotted line that equates greater pay with greater stress.

happy job

We all work for money but it’s not the golden elixir that it once used to be.

After all, no amount of cash in the world could caveat the damage of a toxic working environment, or the weight of mental health issues sparked by being overloaded with deadlines and demands.

Workplace friends, on the other hand, are a boon to productivity. Research shows that having a close pal in the office is a subtly empowering force, making us feel like we can take on anything.

Connection with others is a key pillar of happiness, and given we spend most of our lives at work, it’s a natural place to reap this benefit.

Read more: Tackling the mid-30s blues

It’s also the reason why enterprising companies are increasingly on the lookout for ways to facilitate workplace friendships (shout-out to Flash Pack’s ping pong league and master of fun nights!)

So, the next time you find yourself deliberating between a large salary or a great working culture, think carefully about the choice.

Because, to quote the inimitable Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreations, “We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles and work. Or waffles, friends, work. But work always comes last.”

Images: Shutterstock

Subscribe to our newsletter


Our newest adventures, exciting offers and competitions and the latest travel stories from around the world, straight to your inbox.

Talk to an expert

Need help choosing your perfect adventure? Speak to one of our dedicated Travel Advisors now.

Contact Us


Hear about our new adventures before anyone else.

Be the first to hear about exclusive Flash Pack offers.

Access exciting competitions.

Receive weekly inspiration and travel stories from solos just like you.