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Only One-Fifth of American Workers Say "Compensation" Is the Biggest Factor in Determining Work Happiness

National "WorkSphere" survey discovers other factors that make Americans happy at work and what sacrifices they are willing to make to achieve job happiness

ATLANTA, Aug. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Though employers may believe more money will make their employees happy, new survey findings released by national staffing company Spherion revealed other factors also play a role in making workers happy at their jobs, and workers will make monetary and other career-related sacrifices to achieve job happiness.

According to the second "WorkSphere" survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Spherion among employed adults, in addition to compensation being a factor in determining job happiness (22 percent), about one-fifth of workers reported that it's important they work in a field that they are interested in and passionate about (19 percent). Job security (15 percent), the company's culture/work environment (13 percent) and the ability to work with people they like (10 percent) were ranked almost equally as high among workers. Yet, factors such as workplace flexibility (7 percent), the ability to work with people they work well with (6 percent) and opportunities for career advancement (5 percent) were reported as less significant when it comes to job happiness.

Additionally, workers will go to various lengths when accepting a new job for the sake of being happier in their careers. Workers would be at least somewhat willing to work in a less private office space (76 percent), reduce their workplace flexibility (60 percent) and even accept a lower position or title (60 percent). And, almost half of all workers will give up benefits such as their vacation time, 401K contributions and other job perks (41 percent). In contrast, workers are much less willing to take a pay cut (36 percent) or relinquish their health benefits (31 percent).

"In our first WorkSphere survey, we found that workers are willing to sacrifice their careers for love, and now this WorkSphere survey revealed they will go to extreme lengths and make sacrifices for the sake of finding job happiness," said Spherion Division President Sandy Mazur. "Employers have a unique opportunity to capitalize on these findings and offer small, but meaningful, opportunities that can help workers be happy in their current roles. And, that can pay big dividends for the employee and the employer."

Additional survey results include:

  • Most workers (92 percent) said that they are at least "somewhat happy" at their jobs. And, 52 percent said they are "very" or "extremely" happy. But, only a quarter of workers described their workplace as "happy", while more workers noted it is "fast-paced" (29 percent) and "stressful" (28 percent).
  • Other common characteristics to describe workplace culture included "results-oriented" (25 percent) and "open" (25 percent). Surprisingly, only 11 percent of workers described their workplace as "competitive."
  • Happy workers may brush off on their colleagues. Six out of every 10 (60 percent) workers noted that they are somewhat or much happier when they see others happy at work.
  • Most working Americans said they would be happier in an established company (81 percent) over a start-up (19 percent), a collaborative environment (84 percent) over a competitive one (16 percent) and a smaller organization rather than a larger one (64 percent vs. 36 percent).
  • If you want a happy worker, feed them: 30 percent of workers reported that the availability of food throughout the day contributes to their workplace happiness. Workers also reported that a visually pleasing environment (46 percent), an organization with a mission or purpose aligned with their values (42 percent) and a lounge where they can get away or have time to themselves (29 percent), among other characteristics, are also important.

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Spherion from August 13-15, 2014 among 2,016 adults ages 18 and older, of which 882 were employed full-time or part-time. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About Spherion
Spherion Staffing Services is a leading recruiting and staffing provider that specializes in placing administrative, clerical, customer service and light industrial candidates in temporary and full-time opportunities. As an industry pioneer for more than 68 years, Spherion has sourced, screened and placed millions of individuals in virtually every industry through a network of offices across the United States. Spherion offers companies a unique combination of personalized customer service backed by the resources, knowledge and geographic breadth of a $2 billion dollar workforce leader. Last year we helped more than 3,000 clients find the right talent to meet their workforce goals. Each local office is individually owned and operated by a team of staffing specialists who are known throughout the community, well-acquainted with your business and supported by a strong network of talent. To learn more, visit

SOURCE Spherion

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