Earning Happiness

“Financial rewards are not enough. People, whether managers or workers, whether in business or outside, need rewards of prestige and pride.”

– Peter F. Drucker The Practice of Management

According to a much-cited recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton of Princeton University, $75,000 is the magic salary figure for ensuring worker happiness.

Beyond that income threshold, workers are no happier in their day-to-day lives, although they may express a sense of greater lifetime achievement. Earning a lesser salary, meanwhile, does not automatically mean a life of misery. Still, the authors found, the challenges of life are felt more acutely when you earn less.

For Peter Drucker, keeping workers happy and satisfied went beyond giving them fat paychecks. He suggested that workers needed to feel satisfied in multiple ways (physiologically, psychologically, socially, economically and by having a measure of power). Work is “impersonal and objective,” he wrote in his 1973 classic, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices. “But working is done by a human being.… As the old human relations tag has it. ‘One cannot hire a hand; the whole man always comes with it.’”

In this edition of Drucker Apps, we invite you to join our conversation about what brings you happiness at work. Weighing in will be Marshall Goldsmith, a leading authority on leadership and author of Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep it, How to Get It Back If You Lose ItDaniel Pink, best-selling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us; Sonja Lyubomirsky, psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside and author of The How of Happiness; Ed Diener author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth; and others with insights into this subject.

We open things up with this question: What’s the job that made you happiest in your life, and was it the money or something else that left you feeling that way?