For love or money

For love or money – survey finds high income more important than intrinsic rewards in job satisfaction

Elizabeth Stark

For Love or Money?

All of us who work make choices about what criteria are most important in a job. Rewarding work and career advancement have traditionally outweighed simply earning a high income for many people. But since the early 1970s, earning money has become more important to many workers than intrinsic rewards.

Management consultant Charles N. Weaver and psychologist Michael D. Matthews compared workers’ responses to surveys conducted in the early 1970s and the early 1980s by the National Opinion Research Center. At both times, men chose what they considered to be the most important aspect of a job from five possible criteria.

In the early 1970s, 53 percent listed interesting and meaningful work as their preference. The next most popular choice was a job offering opportunities for advancement. Providing a high income only ranked third, followed by job security and short work hours.

When the researchers analyzed the responses of working men to the same questions in the early 1980s, they found that although a rewarding job was still the most popular choice, fewer than half of those questioned listed it as their most important requirement. High income, on the other hand, rose in importance, ousting career advancement for second place, Weaver and Matthews report (Personnel, Vol. 64, pp. 62-65).

The increasing preference for high-paying jobs rather than intrinsically rewarding ones may be only a temporary response to inflation, say Weaver, of St. Mary’s College in San Antonio, Texas, and Matthews, of Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. But they fear it is part of a fundamental shift in attitudes during the past 10 or 15 years toward greater materialism and individualism. Although the researchers did not break workers down by age, they suspect much of this trend is due to the influx of younger workers with more hedonistic values.

COPYRIGHT 1988 Sussex Publishers, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group