What is Emotional Salary?

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


Emotional Salary will be different for each individual. For some, the most important aspect of working may be the opportunity to socialise and make friends at work, whilst for others, this may not be important at all and having the opportunity to become an expert in their chosen field or maximise their creativity will be what they value most.

What is the Emotional Salary Barometer?

The ESB is an online tool which measures the Emotional Salary of a working individual (whether employed or freelance). It generates an individual report detailing the Emotional Salary of that individual, together with a plan on how to increase it.

Why doesn´t the ESB take flexible remuneration aspects like childcare or restaurant vouchers into account?

Whilst these benefits have enormous value to the employee, they are fixed and relatively easy to quantify. However, there are other factors which are variable, are not always recognised by the individual, and can improve once the employee is aware of them and takes action. These factors have a massive impact on employees and, thus, the organisation as a whole.

I think there are other factors which make up Emotional Salary. Why aren’t they included?

Our research that included a pilot test of the Barometer in 22 countries suggests that we have comprehensively identified the elements that constitute Emotional Salary. The validity and reliability scores of the tool confirm this. It is possible that there are other elements which are important on an individual level, but to measure this level of subjective data would make the tool much less statistically reliable.

How is the ESB different from an employee engagement or satisfaction survey?

Employee engagement surveys measure employees´ degree of engagement with the mission, vision and objectives of the organisation. Whilst this is valuable information for an organisation, completing an employee engagement survey has little or no value for employees. Our research has shown that simply by completing the ESB an individual goes through a process of evaluation of their work on a professional, social and personal level which is likely to result in a shift in perception. In addition, employers can use the information from the ESB to clearly identify strategies, policies and tools that will increase employees´ Emotional Salary leading to increased engagement.

Does the ESB measure happiness at work?

No. It is notoriously difficult to define happiness. We believe that general happiness is not an appropriate metric in the workplace. Happiness encompasses many different aspects of your life, some of which are not connected to work. However, research continuously demonstrates being aware of what you have and what you value has a strong correlation with wellbeing. The ESB facilitates that awareness in the workplace.

What is the benefit of utilising the ESB?

For more information on the benefits of the ESB for individuals see here and for organisations see here.

Will employers be able to see copies of individual employee’s reports or scores?

No. The individual reports are confidential. However, we encourage individuals to use the report in order to discuss with their manager, colleagues or teams how they can increase their Emotional Salary. For further information on the benefits of the ESB for individuals see here .

Can the ESB be used as part of the recruitment process?

The ESB evaluates Emotional Salary in an individual´s current work. Whilst the ESB can be used by individuals to gain an awareness of what is important for them in relation to their work, it is not designed to be used by organisations in the recruitment and selection process.

What is likely to happen if a high performing employee discovers they have a very low emotional salary?

It is unlikely that any individual will be completely unaware that they have a very low Emotional Salary prior to receiving their report. However, what the report will highlight are which factors are most relevant to the individual, together with suggestions for how Emotional Salary in those areas can be improved. Each individual must take responsibility for their own Emotional Salary.

Who is responsible for Emotional Salary, the employer or the employee?

Emotional salary is subjective and the importance of each of the factors will differ from individual to individual. An organisation can develop the culture, strategies and policies to support the development of Emotional Salary. However, it is up to each individual to take responsibility for their own Emotional Salary.

What can an organisation do to increase Emotional Salary?

The first step is becoming aware of the current level of Emotional Salary of employees. This information will be useful to start a dialogue with managers, colleagues or teams that may have an influence on the Emotional Salary of each person. The information obtained by the ESB can be used in the creation of strategies and policies that help increase Emotional Salary.

What is the benefit of the ESB to an organisation?

With the data provided from the ESB, the organisation will get a clear idea of what aspects of work their employees value. The ESB will help to highlight patterns and trends throughout the organisation.


Through the ESB employees can start to recognise and take responsibility for their own Emotional Salary, creating a shift in perspective and leading to the co-creation of more effective HR and people development strategies.

What is the relationship between the ESB and Maslow’s motivation model?

Even though it was not our inspiration, it is easy to find a relationship, as many of the ten factors constituting Emotional Salary can be linked with social needs, the need for recognition and self-actualisation needs.

How does the ESB work?

The ESB is an online questionnaire which takes around 10-15 minutes to complete. After completion, the individual receives a thorough report with an overview of their Emotional Salary, a breakdown of their Emotional Salary by factor, and other important information, including a personalised action plan, and ideas on how to increase their Emotional Salary.

How is the ESB unique?

The unique features of the ESB are:

  • The ESB measures the Emotional Salary of both employees and freelancers.
  • The ESB measures only the emotional gains from work, and nothing that can be measured financially like any flexible remuneration aspects.
  • The ESB is based on a thoroughly researched definition of Emotional Salary with extremely high statistical reliability and validity.
  • There is a benefit to both the employee and the organisation when an employee takes the ESB – the employee obtains a detailed analysis of their Emotional Salary, and the organisation obtains information about those elements that might increase performance and employee satisfaction.
  • The ESB encourages individuals to take ownership of their Emotional Salary and be proactive about increasing it.
Is Emotional Salary fixed or does it change over time?

It changes over time, especially when major changes of a personal or professional nature occur. We strongly recommend evaluating your Emotional Salary on a yearly basis or after any major changes at work to monitor how it evolves.

Can the ESB be used as a justification to stop increasing financial salary?

It is not in our power whether employers would use the justification of having high organisational Emotional Salary to make decisions about financial salary. However, employers will not receive information that could identify any individuals and their emotional salary score. Furthermore, any organisation that has high organisational Emotional Salary is unlikely to have a culture that supports this argument. Moreover, it is up to the individual to weigh up the relationship between their emotional and financial salary and make the appropriate decisions.

If you have a specific question that is not answered, please feel free to contact us

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