Sunday, June 05, 2011

High Pay with Low Stress or Growth?

A friend of mine resigned from his company last month. So, I asked him why and his answer was very stressful to work there, and he didn’t see a reason to reject since he got an offer with 30% increment and promotion. According to him, the new company (i.e. which is also his ex-company) is a lot more less stressful than the existing one. So the conversation continues:

Me: Are you doing a same job like what you did previously?
Friend A: Yupe. No difference and I know in-out of everything.
Me: Even with a promotion, will you still do the same thing like what you did last time?
Friend A: Kind of. I'm supposed to get a promotion previously but they didn’t give me. I can perform at that level. No problem for me at all.
Me: So, can I say you will be in comfort zone?
Friend A: Definitely. So lucky I am. Get a raise to do an easy job!
Me: What about personal growth? Will the new job help you to grow?
Friend A: Hmm…  Is that important? I don’t take that into my consideration. I will be stupid if I don’t take this offer for doing something easier and less stressful.
Me: Okay. You’re right. Good luck, man!
So, what do you think? Was my friend making a right decision? There 2 things to consider here:

First, you get a promotion with a same job scope before? Think about it carefully, why a company want to do this? It still makes sense assuming if you’ve already over-performed in a lower grade as what my friend told me.

Second, no growth versus money. Which one is the right thing to decide if you can only choose one? Well, this is not an easy decision especially when it comes to you. I bet most people will choose money and sacrifice growth like what my friend did. If you were my friend, what will you do?

If I were my friend…

I will make sure there is a growth for me before I take the new position. I will start discussing with the hiring manager the opportunity to growth. Keep in mind that doing a same job, doesn’t mean no growth. Assuming after the assessment, I find that there is no growth or no significant growth in this new job,  I will NOT take this offer! Ops. but with one exception, guess what? The exception is there is also no growth in my current or existing job.


One more thing is missing here before you consider to switch job is company stability. You don't want to join that no strong in fundamental. Anyway to make the discussion easier, let’s put aside this into the consideration
Well this is what I think. You should make decision based on the following criteria in priority order:
  1. High Pay, Low Stress, and High Growth (Ultimate goal, don’t you think so?)
  2. High Pay, High Stress, and High Growth (Okay, not that bad. Learning to manage stress is a skill.)
  3. Low Pay,  Low Stress, and High Growth (Eventually your growth will translate to money, don’t worry!)
  4. Low Pay, High Stress, and High Growth (Don’t worry again, money will come later.)
  5. High Pay, High Stress and Low Growth (Try to make use of your high stress to become your growth)
  6. High Pay, Low Stress and Low Growth (Yes, only if you really want to be in comfort zone!)
  7. Low Pay, Low Stress, and Low Growth (This should be your retirement strategy.)
  8. Low pay, High Stress, and Low Growth (Too obvious right? Please avoid this.)
Look at 3,4,5 and 6. Guess some of you may disagree with me?

P/S: Btw, guess what is the top 5 high-paying and low-stress jobs? That is Physical Therapist,  Computer Software Engineer, Civil Engineer, Massage Therapist, and Technical Writer (Provided by: Investopedia).


Mt. said...

there are a few fundamentals missing in your article;

salary is what others decide to pay you, stress is something what you decide to react against an environment, growth is how you find an opportunity around you. so you may influence how much your salary is, but you have total control in your own stress and growth level. given that the same person is moving from one environment to another, he is the same person so stress and growth ( internal factors ) would most properly the same, hence getting a higher salary ( external factor ) is better place to move to.

since this is a finance blog, you may have to assign a 'figure' onto a value. ie. salary increase 30% is future 50% growth, so if the future growth may come next year but the growth effective rate could be better than salary now, but if the growth may come in effect 5 years later, then current salary increment is better etc.

lastly, the fact a person 'doesn't think' there is growth out there doesn't mean there isn't growth. Once 'promoted', its a different playing ground and soon he will find much more growth opportunities, its only up to the limitation of his own mind to understand it.

ChampDog said...

Thanks for the sharing! Salary is what others decide to pay you but “BASED ON” your value to them. You have higher value, you get higher pay. Growth brings up you value. So eventually controlling your growth brings up your value and thus getting a higher pay. So it is still something that can be controlled by you?

A same person may have different stress level for different tasks. Specifically to this friend of mine, he in fact was joining a slightly different industry from his speciality. That’s why the stress level is high for him. So, he decided to switch back to his original industry and getting a higher pay for it but with less growth as compared to the new industry that he left. Btw to be exact, it is still the same industry with different skillset in the company that he left. So in this in case, is it the choice between “Growth” or “Money”…

Thanks again, putting figure into the discussion should be interesting. One challenge is how to measure growth? Can we measure growth by % since this is also subjective from person to another? I think in personal finance perspective, growth eventually translated to $ too (your pay check) as I mentioned. If we can somehow measure that, we come out a number!

Perhaps you’re right too. It’s only the limitation of his own mind to understand it. But if he doesn’t understand it, means he is taking risk. I think one should know his growth opportunity before he takes up a new job, rather than taking risk.

Alvin Lim said...

yea, low stress/high stress...high growth/low growth are up to u really. some ppl will just pass by 9-5 every day, getting a steady salary and go back home. even if there's nothing to do at work, the person will not look for work. no initiatives. just passing his time.

compared this to someone who will start digging stuff to work on even when there's nothing been assigned. a company will always have things to do or improve on, it's just a matter of whether the people want to do it or not.

ChampDog said...

A same position,the exact same tasks, I have seen people stress out and the other one has no stress at all. The reason is usually due to lack of the capability or skills.

So, less stress always gives you more flexibility but that person needs to be proactive.

Back to this main discussion of this topic, assuming you get a high pay and not so stress work but without much growth (assuming you have already done your research and confirmed there is no rooms for growth), what is your choice? Growth or Money?

Kris said...

Yeah..i always thought of this before.

If were me, i will get the high pay and not so stress work but without much growth.

As my ultimate aim is to start my own business :P There is were the wealth and financial independence is especially when you are growing older and job security might be shaky as you can be easily replaced by young blood especially if you are in the management chain :P

If you are too capable, another dilemma is that all the work might be dump to you vs your peer whom might not be so capable because they know you can deliver on time, etc. End of the day, the recognition might not come..

AskChong said...

"High Pay, Low Stress, and High Growth (Ultimate goal, don’t you think so?)"

Above is in the context of employment income! It will never happen so long it is under employment.

"High Income, Low Stress, and High Growth" is more likely possible if you are in sort of "self-employed" category.

ChampDog said...

@Kris, nice one! I totally agree with you. If I were you, I will make the same decision too.

Too stupid, got problem. Too smart also got problem!!!.:) I wouldn't say the smart in smart in that case. :D There's a corporate game that you need to know how to play. :D

@AskChong, "self-employed" only? I have seen some companies are like that. Btw, not those local companies but it is the MNC company.

Sometimes less stressful, it could be you're already very capable or familiar with the tasks in that position. :)

TCKhew said...

For me, it is pretty hard to find a high pay job with low stress. The figure of the pay is normally proportionate with the stress level. Yes, although stress is something that we can control to a certain extent. But when the tasks that we have to handle are something tough, our stress will grow spontaneously. In this case, we can only minimize our stress, but it's hard to totally eliminate it.

In my opinion, high pay job will normally come with high stress and subsequently come with high growth. As the boss will only pay you high when the tasks are difficult, difficult tasks will bring you high stress. When the tasks are difficult, there is a need for you do more research and analysis before you manage to complete it. Throughout this process, there will be definitely a growth in term of knowledge or skills.

So, for me, high pay = high stress = high growth/ low pay = low stress = low growth, are the two more common scenarios.

ChampDog said...

Talk about common scenarios, here are mine:
1)high pay, low stress, low growth
2)low pay, high stress, high growth.
3)low pay, high stress, low growth.

If you work on the niche industry for quite some time, (1) will eventually come true. For (2), probably is due to the fresh grade. For (3) are mostly due to the low performance.

Talking about managing stress, it is all about efficiency and focus on the right thing. E.g. focus on 20% tasks that can yield 80% of the result. Sometimes, we need to learn how to let go to and avoid to complete EVERYTHING in perfect. You do not need to complete EVERYTHING to score! I guess you will know what I mean here. :)

Also high stress not always links to high growth especially if the job is kind of very routine job. Yes, if the high stress requires you to do more research and analysis. What if doing a research and analysis is very routine? Then, it will not be high growth anymore...

High or low growth also very related to the alignment of your long term goal. High growth to me doesn't mean high growth to you too.

A&Y said...

What is "growth"? growth in knowledge or skill? new position?

ChampDog said...

Yes, knowledge and skills. New position could be grow too if you gain more knowledge and skills with that new position. If the new position doesn't bring you any new skills or new knowledge, there is no growth. :)

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