Can you measure job happiness?

I’m currently in a strange place in my career, I’ve been working in IT for 14 years and a Senior Project Manager (SPM) for the last 5 years and I recently took 3 months out to travel the world, recharge the batteries and decide on my next career move.

I now at that ‘deciding’ stage and today I have questioned myself as to the battle of financial rewards versus job happiness.  I know that financial reward play’s a part in how happy you are, but it is only a part of the happiness equation.

To try to answer my original question I’m going to use an arbitrary financial reward figure of 100,000 chocolate pennies as my current reward, CP for short (this mainly helps with maths).



So put yourself in my shoes right now. I’m currently short term contracting whilst I search for the right next move, but I don’t actually know what that move should be, it could be any of the following

  • Stick with being a SPM at a large agency (maybe the one I’m currently contracting at) with a 100,000 CP reward
  • Go client side SPM in an industry I’d love and be rewarded 90,000 CP (10% less)
  • Get out of a SPM role into a Junior/Medium User Experience role and be rewarded 70,000 CP (30% less)
  • Move to a smaller agency as a SPM but with massive potential to grow with the company and be rewarded 80,000 CP (20% less)
  • Try to find a Head of delivery role (few but far between) and be rewarded 130,000 CP (30% more)

As you can see there’s a massive difference between the potential rewards on offer and if reward was the only factor I think it’d be an easy choice, but money can only be part of job happiness.

So how do you measure the difference in happiness? I do think that it’s a very personal thing but in true undercover geek I have done some maths using the following criteria.

  • Reward Percentage increase / decrease
  • Hours expected to work per week
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Potential growth in 3-5 years
  • How I feel about the job (Dream job to hate the job)
  • Benefits on offer (10 benefits = 10 points, non-benefits = 1 point)

I gave each a score out of 10, 10 being things dreams are made of and 1 being the things that you don’t even dare have nightmares about, I also chose my most important three factors and rated them 1 – 3 and then turned that into percent of happy.

In order to quantify the results I used the below list

  • +90% = Dream role paying top CP and gives you the kitchen sink in benefits
  • +80% = The job must have evolved from a hobby/passion
  • +70% = Ideal job but it’s still a job
  • +60% = Happy job
  • +50% = Not a bad job, pretty average,it pays the bills
  • -50% = Might be time to get on LinkedIn or call a Recruitment Agent

I’ve now scored my roles and the numbers come out between 56% and 71%, I’m not going to say which roles came out where as I don’t want it to harm any potential future moves, let’s just say that I was definitely surprised by 2 results, my results do show that whatever I choose I’ll be happy, but if I search and work hard I could just fall upon my ideal role.

So have i answer the original question?  Maybe not 100% but I have a better idea of which direction to put my efforts into.

If you’d like to try my very very basic Google doc with the calculations in please do drop me a message or just comment below.