This Will Make You Happier Than One Big Raise

We all have so many reasons for wishing our salaries would go up. Whether we've got loans, debt, or just an impossible cost of living, a raise would surely make just about all of us happier. Weirdly, though, that happiness may not last for long.

Swiss researchers at the University of Basel analyzed more than 33,500 data points from the German Socio-Economic Panel, which conducts long-term studies of nearly 11,000 private households and 30,000 individuals. They were looking for insights on how job satisfaction relates to wage changes. Most of the respondents said they were fairly satisfied at work, rating their satisfaction at about 7 out of 10.

To no one's surprise, getting a raise or a bonus does boost your job satisfaction. Even the hope or expectation of a raise does the same thing. But the longer you go without a raise, the less that effect holds up. As time goes on, you adapt to your new wage level, which becomes merely a baseline rather than something to buoy you along.

It's way less dramatic, but employers can achieve the same effect with incremental, small but regular wage increases. It's more of a marathon than a sprint, but in combination with promotions, it keeps employees satisfied for longer. Of course, don't turn down a bump in pay on principle, but try talking with your manager about how your office awards raises. It might work out better for everyone in the end.