Emotional Salary: Improve Your Culture Without Neglecting What Is Important

Emotional Salary: Improve Your Culture Without Neglecting What Is Important

We still find definitions that refer to work as “an activity that is carried out in exchange for financial compensation” but in reality we are building a different definition. 

The payroll is received at the end of the month but every day, the professional ends his day and takes stock of what he has earned : do you feel that he is growing? Have you received constructive feedback on what he does? Have you been asked for input to solve a challenge?

The answers will reflect whether the company, in addition to offering a living wage, also takes into account the emotional salary. And it is that one thing is the figure that is agreed upon when hiring a person and another very different is, how much is that person’s work worth?

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Emotional Salary Is Earned Every Day

In the latest Ikea ad, we hear Luis, its protagonist, reading an email that he has written to explain that he is leaving his job and meanwhile, we see how he is turning his living room into a fabric and clothing workshop. The email ends with this sentence signed by Luis: Hoping he understands my decision, I resign.

The spot is part of the “build a better life” campaign and reflects the step that many people are taking. In the US, more than 38 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in 2021 , according to data from the Job Vacancy and Rotation Survey.

Record figures that gave rise to the movement called The Great Resignation , which we have already talked about in our blog. 

In Spain, the situation has not been so pronounced but even so, the month of April 2022 closed with 5,467 dropouts , the highest monthly data since 2001, when Social Security began to collect this marker. 

We cannot ignore that all this was happening in a context of a pandemic, where it seemed that the most logical thing to do was to secure, above all else, a job.

However, experts explain that this very situation opened our eyes, especially the youngest , and what they have seen more clearly than ever is that it is time to regain control of their lives, something that precisely begins by looking for a I work better. 

We know that salary is still the most important factor when choosing a company, according to the study “Randstad Employer Brand Research of 2022” but then, what is it that leads us to resign?

More Salary Is Not Better

More than 250 years ago, the economist Adam Smith wrote that material gains make us less happy , and now studies like the one from Princeton University show that having a higher income increases happiness, but only up to $75,000 per year.

If not everything is raising the salary, although a priori it may be the fastest solution to cover a problem of work commitment or performance, perhaps the question we should ask ourselves is another:

Are we giving importance to people’s satisfaction? How much is that feeling worth? Is it paid with salary or do we need something else?

In an analysis prepared by Glassdoor to better understand what is behind the satisfaction of professionals, the opinions on this topic of 615,000 registered users of the job portal were analyzed.

It is important to note that these users were separated into 4 salary groups, from the lowest (those who earned less than $40,000 per year) to the highest (more than $120,000). 

Well, there is something that is particularly striking: at all income levels, the main predictor of satisfaction in the workplace is not salary. It is the culture and values ​​of the organization, followed by the quality of CEO leadership and career opportunities. We see it in detail:

  • In the lower income group, the organization’s culture and values ​​represent 21.6% of worker satisfaction , which rises to 23.4% for those with higher incomes. 
  • At higher pay levels, workers clearly place more emphasis on culture, leadership, or growth opportunities , rather than focusing on things like pay or work-life balance.
  • Precisely, work-life balance and flexibility lose importance at higher income levels , going from representing 13.2% of satisfaction to 9.5%, as salary increases.

The study authors suggest that a company culture of engagement is a good antidote to external changes , such as an unexpected pandemic or market crisis. But above all, they propose an interesting reflection, what is the next step to ensure the commitment and satisfaction of our team beyond raising the salary?

Give Value To Work With Emotional Salary

Since 2005, studies have shown that the meaning a job has for a person is increasingly important when it comes to staying with a company or looking for another opportunity.

One of the most relevant is the “Report on meaning and purpose at work” where 2,285 American professionals are interviewed. This is what they respond: 

  • 9 out of 10 are willing to trade a percentage of their income for greater meaning at work. In fact, they said they would be willing to give up 23% of their income , keeping in mind that 21% of American income is for housing. 
  • With a very significant job, 1 additional hour is dedicated to the company and 2 fewer days of paid vacation are taken per year. 
  • Those who find their job very meaningful are 69% less likely to plan to leave their job in the next 6 months. 
  • They also have a job tenure that lasts 7.4 months longer on average than employees who find their work meaningless. 

However, giving value to work is not implementing a social benefits program or offering more labor flexibility. It is not because this whole package of measures is something that is expected to exist in a company, it is a right for the people who are part of it. 

For example, at the pharmaceutical multinational Johnson & Johnson , its more than 125,000 employees have private health insurance and free food.

At Repsol, they are committed to good conciliation practices, offering the possibility of working from home in different modalities, such as one day, two days, 20% of the day or two more afternoons on Friday. 

These benefits improve the work environment and serve to care for people , but the emotional salary goes further and requires another way of thinking, since it is a key tool to strengthen the commitment of the teams and the culture of the organization. 

So how could you reinforce it in your company? 

Showing That Everyone’s Work Has An Impact 

One of the great challenges of a company is to reconcile its corporate purpose with that of each person. When hiring someone, we should be able to figure out what they can bring to the table and assume that they probably want to make a mark with what they do. 

In other words, we should look for the “purpose of each individual within the company”, to listen to it, understand it and put all the means at its disposal so that it can fulfill it and feel fulfilled. 

It is a very interesting path and one from which you can learn a lot. Can you imagine that the purpose of the company could be inspired by the purpose of a person?

With More Opportunities For Growth

Involving people in decision-making or encouraging creativity are some of the strategies to add value to work. These activities break the routine and help teams find inspiration and purpose in what they do.  

In addition, in companies that support the exchange of knowledge, people’s commitment increases . Sometimes, teams are isolated in their projects, as if it were a bubble, but when those bubbles are broken, something big happens: ideas and advice are shared to evolve more quickly.

Inditex has created the InTransit program so that a person can request an exchange with another who works in the company but in another part of the world. This can be considered an emotional salary strategy because this opportunity drives the growth of the person and inspires them in their work.

Bringing Out The Best In Each Person

Using their strengths or abilities makes a person feel more valued. For this reason, human resources professionals should know what each candidate can really contribute or what will stimulate them in their day to day to get more involved. 

So What Is The Most Rational?

People expect their work to be significant, but that does not mean that the salary is not still important because if there is something rational and above all realistic, it is to keep in mind that the payroll is what allows us to do such basic things as pay the rent. 

However, there are two ways of looking at this issue. On the one hand, those who understand that emotional salary and salary are two different but complementary concepts, which should be present in any company, and on the other, those who focus on comparing and classifying them to decide which is more important. 

And if you kept the best of each one? Offering a competent and appropriate salary for each professional can help us attract talent or promote a feeling of security and stability, but guaranteeing an emotional salary will make it easier for us to retain that talent and improve people’s satisfaction.  

With The Emotional Salary We All Win

Have we talked enough about the emotional salary? Do you think it is more or less valued than the salary in our country? Would you like to promote it in your company?

When a person quits their job for economic reasons, there is not much to think about. He just wanted more money. But now there are more and more reasons that go beyond a number, so when someone leaves the ship because their work is not valued, we have an opportunity to analyze what we can change. 

And speaking of change, maybe in your company you can change the job definition together and write one that is unique . A definition in which, without neglecting what is important, there is also room for an emotional salary. 


Emotional salary is an effective strategy for improving company culture without neglecting the important aspects of the job. By offering employees emotional support and providing an inclusive environment, companies can create a sense of belonging and loyalty among their workforce. Contact us for more content like this!

Frequently Asked Questions About Emotional Salary

Positive emotions like joy and hope enhance productivity and foster positive relationships at work, whereas negative emotions such as anxiety and anger can cause conflict and hinder focus on work.

Cultural context impacts how individuals perceive their own emotional intelligence and can shape which emotions are deemed desirable to express. This can influence self-rated EI.

Managing our emotions leads to better decision-making, big or small, as it enables us to identify triggers and respond constructively. Understanding our emotions helps us gain insights on how to respond constructively.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace offers several advantages, such as the ability to interpret nonverbal cues, adjust behavior appropriately, make sound decisions, and gain respect as a leader.

Culture influences both the expression and experience of emotions. In the United States, expressing negative emotions is acceptable both alone and in the presence of others, whereas Japanese individuals tend to do so only in private.

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Chris Charles
By Chris Charles

Hey everyone, I am Chris, A versatile and knowledgeable skills writer, able to bring a fresh perspective and valuable insights to a wide range of topics, from public speaking to time management. An experienced skills writer with a talent for breaking down complex concepts into easily digestible content that helps individuals succeed.