Pay Isn’t What Matters Most – But It Still Matters

You’ve heard for years that compensation is not the primary factor for keeping talent at your company and keeping them job satisfied. Several other environmental concerns are what keep people working with you and happy about it.


Compensation and benefits are essential for getting the right people. You’ll attract higher quality talent if you offer more pay and better benefits. For sustainability and satisfaction, however, you’ll need to take a different approach.

According to research conducted by of more than 615,000 people, money is among the lowest predictors for retention and satisfaction in the workplace. What they found was that six other core issues were more likely to affect whether your staff stays with you and a satisfied with what you have to offer.

Culture and Values: The culture of the environment and the values of the company are the greatest predictors of your staff’s contentment. They want to work in a culture that lets them excel, promotes positive teamwork, and demonstrates that taking care of staff is their priority. Beyond that, people need to work for a company with values that align with their own – not just in word, but in practice.

Senior Leadership: In a time when employees view corporate CEOs with suspicion, people are more likely to avoid looking for a new employer if they believe in their senior leadership. They want quality leaders who are interested in them as people and not just workers, or a means to accomplish the quarterly profit goals.

Career Opportunities: Your staff is more likely to stick around if they think they have more to give and get within the company. Many companies tout a “promote from within” priority, but few companies have the confidence of their staff they will actually prioritize them over an outside candidate.

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Business Outlook: The first three factors are overwhelmingly weightier for employee satisfaction, but your team is more likely to stick with you if your company has a positive business outlook. Jack Welch was a great at hitting quarterly and annual profit margins, but he did it at the expense of his people. Your people want to know they are a sustainable resource for the company and not expendable to make shareholders happy.

Work-Life Balance: Interestingly, a good work-life balance is nearly at the bottom of the factors that matter to people. This is nuanced though. In the research, Glassdoor found that work-life balance was a lower priority to those with a higher income. Conversely, those with a lower income still did not prioritize work-life balance as a higher priority than the four already listed.

Compensation and Benefits: Chief economist for, Andrew Chamberlain, posited from the research that adjusting your compensation and benefits package won’t change the commitment or job satisfaction level of your staff if it is already within the range of competing agencies.

Simply stated, if you want to lead a staff that sticks with you content in the workplace you provide you need to invest in your culture, provide quality senior leaders, and create opportunities for growth within the organization.

Your investment in compensation shouldn’t be ignored though. If you want the people who will make your organization successful, you’ll have to “show them the money” to get them in the door.

Question: What are you doing to create a culture where your people will remain on your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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