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August 23, 2007
Perception Is Everything When It Comes to Pay Satisfaction

Where employees place themselves on the "ladder of social prestige" has a lot to do with their personal satisfaction with their jobs--and their compensation--finds a recent study reported in the September 2007 issue of Prevention magazine.

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Research by Ed Diener, Ph.D, of the University of Illinois suggests that part of employees' satisfaction with their income is based on their reputation at work; that it is the experience and effort put into getting a paycheck that counts. While you're the size of your salary is important, Diener explains in the article, if you are well regarded in your field, based on experience and reliability, that is what boosts the feeling of self-worth.

A bonus is that, "people who perceive themselves as high on the social ladder--regardless of their actual educational degree or size of their paycheck--are less likely to suffer from a range of health problems, including depression, insomnia, and certain risk factors for heart disease," says Nancy Alder, Ph.D. and director or the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health.

So, instead of comparing their paychecks to those of bosses or successful colleagues, employees should find qualities they have in common, such as attention to detail or ambition, and give themselves some credit. A study at Stamford University, cited in the article, suggests that comparing other people's good qualities, rather than their paychecks and status, to one's own can actually increase self image and productivity.

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