No Surprise: A Pay Rise Beats Other Benefits

No Surprise: A Pay Rise Beats Other Benefits

‘Soft’ benefits such as flexible working arrangements or more training can make a big difference to our job satisfaction. But faced with the choice, employees still opt for a pay increase over those options, a recent survey suggests.

The global study by HR services provider NorthgateArsino asked 1300 global respondents to rank benefits from their job and their future salary expectations. The levels of expectation around getting a pay rise varied significantly (Asia-Pacific countries being rather more optimistic than the US or Europe). But a global pattern was evident: we’d all rather get a pay increase than a flexible work environment. Bottom-ranked of the six options discussed was a sabbatical, though that might also reflect a cynical realism: very few jobs will offer one so why hang out for it?

We’ve noted previously that benefits such as being allowed to use social networking can sometimes be unwittingly traded for a pay rise. This study suggests that at least some of us are alert to that.


  • Although a pay-rise would be nice I’ve always thought that a likeable job is much more important than the pay. We you consider that 8 hours of every day are taken up doing your job (on average) you’d think you would want to like what happens in that time.

    • This is true and what I personally want to aim for, but unfortunately pay satisfies the base needs for a person (shelter, food, etc.). Only once our base needs are met do other factors become more important than pay. Unfortunately in most of western society our expectations on what constitutes a base need is getting higher than the average pay (e.g. a lot of people would consider a good TV and internet connection as a base need).

  • Would be interesting to compare this to a study that looks into what ACTUALLY makes us happier at work, rather than what we THINK would make us happier at work. Don’t have any references on hand but fairly sure a pay increase has been shown to actually not be a great motivator at work, even though we all say we want it…

  • And be careful what you say if you want a payrise. My sister works in the inner suburbs and taking the Clem 7 toll is the fastest way to get to work.

    She uses it, as do some others. But 1 of her colleagues is very vocal when saying she doesn’t use it because spending $4 to save 20 minutes isn’t worth it.

    They all had their annual pay interviews. The staff that talked about (not all did), all got 1 except for the 1 toll opponent. She said the boss interpreted her not wanting to spend $4 to save 20 mins to mean “I consider my time to be worth less than $12 an hour, so don’t want a payrise.” She wasn’t happy, but nothing she could do.

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