In June, I left a lucrative job at an agency. In addition to leaving a steady paycheck, 401K, health benefits, and the like, I left a cash bonus of tens of thousands of dollars paid out at the end of the year. But do not feel sorry for me because I left a place I was not happy being at. All the pay, the perks, the title, the bonus, none of it actually mattered enough to make me stay. It never did. Job satisfaction had been the key all those years.
And so, while I can’t say that I don’t miss the big payout at the end of the year, I have never been happier in my life. Why? Because I have job satisfaction. I work with people who appreciate me, my work and that I have a direct impact on. That means 1000x more to me than a meaningless raise, bonus when the numbers are not meant, a random new title, all the snacks in the world, etc. Does not matter.
My job satisfaction comes from a variety of things, including:
- Doing something I am passionate about
- Involves working with people, including co-workers and external clients
- Allows me to be my authentic self
- Follows a core set of values and has a mission and vision in place
- Pushes me to be better everyday
- Holds me accountable
- Work as a team towards common goals
- Celebrates small and big wins
- Team appreciates and helps each other
- Not afraid of and resolves conflict
- Honest feedback
And there is more, but this gives a good picture. There is nothing in my list about salary, snacks, benefits, commute or title for instance. Frankly, all of those things can be easily replaced at another job. I am sure there is a job with a better salary, benefits, commute, title and snacks. But a place that is extremely value driven, confronts and resolves conflict, celebrates small wins, and appreciates everyone and so much more, is not easy to find.
Those companies are out there. Those leaders are out there. And I work with many of them. None of them are perfect (but who is?), but they work at it each and every day. I see them working at it. And every day they get better at it. And job satisfaction goes up. What is nice though, is usually when job satisfaction goes up, so does productivity and engagement, which ultimately results in higher revenue and bonuses.
So leaders, don’t dangle the bonus, give the job satisfaction first, and the bonus will work itself out.