Emotional Salary is the non-financial or emotional gains we obtain from working that motivate us, change our perception of work and lead to personal and professional development.

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When Emotional Salary Is Not Enough

This blog may come as a surprise, especially coming from us. However, we feel it is important, honest and ethical to talk about this vitally important topic that needs to be clarified.  It may be that many people see the concept of Emotional Salary as a panacea that solves everything and covers all the complexity of the working world. However, when we study it on a case by case basis we realize that there are still things that can affect how we feel at work even when our Emotional Salary is high.

Certain realities that exist

We cannot ignore that some people we have talked to tell us that their work satisfies them in every way they can imagine. We can say that in general, all the factors of their Emotional Salary are represented in their work to a high degree. Looking at it in detail and analyzing each of the Emotional Salary Barometer factors it could look like this: 

  • They have all the Autonomy they need. They perceive that they have a great deal of freedom in their work context. They feel respected, valued and are considered competent. They perceive that they have the space to choose and manage their own organizational style, projects and time. And this is congruent with their own values. 
  • Their Belonging is also high. They have a strong sense of connection with their peers and the organization they work for. They feel recognized, appreciated and valued. They also identify with their job role. 
  • They perceive that they have many opportunities to explore, develop and express original, different and/or innovative ways of doing things. We can say that their Creativity is also high. 
  • They enjoy the social interactions that exist in their work. They consider these relationships to be relaxed, respectful, trusting and authentic. These interactions are spontaneous and have a good sense of humor. 
  • They also perceive that in the time they spend working, they have moments of Inspiration. These moments allow them to align with their deepest values and create a connection with a sense of possibility and direction not only to a better possible job, but to a better way of living. They also feel that they can inspire others through their work. 
  • Their work gives them the opportunity to acquire Mastery. That is, through their work they acquire a deeper understanding of their tasks, greater knowledge. They feel that through their work they increase their experience and gain an awareness of the subtleties of their profession. 
  • Through their work they also have opportunities for Personal Growth.  They gain self-awareness, learn from their mistakes, have opportunities to become more reflective and develop those qualities that make them better human beings. 
  • They feel they also have opportunities for Professional Development. That is, they can develop talents, skills and abilities through the work that they do. They have stimulating work and social opportunities in the course of their work that allow them to reflect on their professional mistakes and learn from them. 
  • They also have the feeling that their work gives them a sense of Purpose and Meaning. They have a sense that their work is contributing to their personal and organizational purposes. 
  • And finally, they feel that their work gives them the opportunity to envision a career, a sense of Direction. They feel capable of making and contributing to decisions that affect them professionally. 

When all of these ten Emotional Salary factors exist,  the natural response is “It’s the ideal job! What more could you want from a job? Take advantage of what you have!” 

However, when talking to these people the words you may hear are that “something else is missing”, and the feelings may be one of gloom, dissatisfaction or frustration. What could be happening? What are the main reasons that even though they have a high Emotional Salary in their current jobs they have the feeling that they need to make the leap to “something else”?

Why people leave a job they love

According to our experience there are 5 main reasons why you may leave a job you love: 

1. You know the company you work for is not doing well

You may be aware that the pandemic and the effects of the current economy are hitting your company hard. Perhaps the organization is not strong enough in its balance sheet and cash reserves. Or perhaps you perceive the company’s plans, prospects and strategies for the future as weak, too idealistic or not solid enough. And if you compare it to other companies in the industry, you may well observe that your organization is not performing as well as others in the industry. All of these things can make you doubt your future in the company you work for. It makes sense that you want to make the leap to something that gives you more long-term career prospects.

2. You love your job but feel you’re not doing so well

When was your last performance review? Is your boss as enthusiastic about you as you are about your work? Do they appreciate you as much as you appreciate your work? If you are confident that your performance is strong, are you also confident that the company needs what you bring to the table? Many times even when we love our work, we may perceive that what we bring to the table is not exactly what the company needs, or feel that the standard is too high and we don’t measure up.If you haven’t been told that your performance is lacking, you may be being overly perfectionistic and self-critical. If this is the case, then you are beating yourself up emotionally unnecessarily. However, keep in mind that you have to be sure that your contribution is valuable and that you are giving your best. And never hesitate asking for continuous feedback so that you don’t assume things that are not true.

3. Your long-term career goals point elsewhere

If you visualize yourself 3 to 5 years in the future considering your age and current situation, can you imagine yourself working in the same place? With the same team and the same boss? Do you think this job can position you for those roles you want in the future? And if you’re not sure, does your current job give you the flexibility to transition into different career paths that would interest you, or is it too specialized?

You may like your job now, but if it doesn’t fit your long-term career goals, it’s beneficial to start looking early. Everything you like about your job now and the Emotional Salary factors you really appreciate will help you in your job search in the future. First, because you know what you really like and appreciate about your job and second, because knowing what you are looking for with certainty makes you have a positive attitude towards your new job search. Something that is always attractive during interviews.

By making this decision you have already evaluated very well what you are leaving and what you are losing. This can be of great help to better position yourself for future positions. Taking a wider perspective than your day-to-day job and being able to see a complete arc of what you want your career to look like and what you want to achieve is an excellent strategy to start proactively planning your professional career. 

4. A better and higher paying job comes along

All of us have an idea of what our dream job would look like, not only emotionally but also financially. It may be that we want to buy a property or that we want our children to go to a better school or that we wish in general for a better financial well-being than we are currently enjoying. No one can judge our desires or our dreams and of course it is okay to wish for something more in the financial realm. Knowing that you are leaving a job you love does not necessarily mean that another job you find must necessarily be worse. On the contrary, by being aware of what your work gives you on an emotional level, and what you appreciate most about  it makes it easier for you to find opportunities that offer you just what you’re looking for. You have the knowledge that will help you explore this during the interview process. What we mean here is that just because you have a job you like doesn’t mean you can never find it again. On the contrary, you now have the tools you need to ask for, look for and find what you like. And no matter how good a job you have now, never stop seeing what’s out there. There is always room for improvement. There are always opportunities to increase your Emotional Salary and also your financial salary.

5. You need a new challenge

You may love your job and love it just the way it is, but when talking to family or friends you may feel that the excitement you felt in the past has disappeared. And, when analyzing your Emotional Salary you don’t find the solution there either. 

Sometimes we feel so comfortable where we are that it can lead to dissatisfaction. Just because something is good or comfortable doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. I am not suggesting at all that we need to move out of our comfort zone just for the sake of it.  But it is a good idea to evaluate the situation you are in and analyze if maybe an excess of comfort and the desire to start a new challenge is what is making you feel that way. 

The Emotional Salary Barometer invites a reflection on an aspect of work that has not previously been fully understood. In the past, separate elements important to work have been discussed but Emotional Salary, its factors and their interrelationships as a fundamental part of how we envision the future of work have not been analyzed. This exploration and discussion can help us in how we want work to be for ourselves, our teams, organizations and for future generations. Having said this, we are aware that the human being is a complex and unique being, which makes work a complex system and where there are no simple solutions, but where it is necessary to appreciate each of the variables that may be affecting us in our feelings at work and in the feelings of our teams.

No matter how much emotional wellbeing, never doubt the importance of the financial salary 

When we shared the results of our research and the importance of the Emotional Salary in the perception we have of our work and the impact it has on our personal and professional development, we never claimed  that it is a substitute for a fair and equitable salary. However, what we will say is that Emotional Salary should be analyzed continuously in a personal, team and organizational context because it has a huge impact on our feelings at work and therefore, on our performance and the results we get from work. 

How important is Financial Salary? It is an age-old question that we have all asked ourselves at one time or another, but one for which we rarely come up with a convincing solution for everyone. The truth is that it is a question that each of us must answer individually as it depends very much on our individual needs and desires, in the same way that our Emotional Salary does.

Salary is important to people for many reasons, even if it is not always the main motivation for accepting a job offer or staying in a position. But we cannot deny that it is vital for most of us. 

What can you do as a leader in this situation? 

Your leadership and legacy is the important thing. Remember that this person loves their job. This is what is important to you. This decision is probably very difficult for them to make and much of the difficulty is due to you and your leadership. Rest assured that you have left a good legacy and that is what is important. Life takes many turns and you may see each other again someday in the future. 

There are certain things that are out of your power and control. This is a great learning experience for you. Even if you have done everything possible, there will always be situations and factors that are beyond your reach or your power to change.

 Don’t take it personally. We know that losing someone on the team can be tough, especially in cohesive teams or if the person is of special importance to you. Even though you’ve put in all your effort and they decide to quit can be perceived as personal. However, remember that work is not family and not friendships. These decisions are made rationally and you must respect these decisions and always support them. 

So where does that leave Emotional Salary? 

What we can say for sure is that Emotional Salary is essential so that the time we spend working (which is a third of our lives) is a time in which we grow, develop and bring out the best we have on everything around us. Inside and outside the company. And this is something that we must never forget or let pass. 

Our mission at the Emotional Salary Barometer team is to help companies and leaders create cultures where a platform for continuous communication, learning, development and growth is established for all involved through Emotional Salary. 

If you want to do an audit in your company to discover the Emotional Salary of your team or organization, do not hesitate to contact us here. Each audit is unique and contains ideas and recommendations to make the most of the results obtained.



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