Communicators: Pay doesn’t matter, give me respect

A new poll shows communicators are happy at work and salary is only one reason.

A new poll shows communicators are happy at work and salary is only one reason

Communication must be a labor of love.

Turns out most communicators are happy with their jobs—and it isn’t because of the money.

Poll participants: 439 professional communicators across a variety of industries. Almost half of respondents work in companies with revenues surpassing $1 billion. Nearly 90 percent of respondents were from North America. The remaining 10 percent participated from Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia.

A recent poll conducted by Ragan Communications and PollStream asked communicators if they were happy in their jobs. The majority (52 percent) of the poll’s 439 respondents said they are happy; 28 percent are “on the fence” and 20 percent want to quit immediately.

The poll revealed salary isn’t what makes them happy.

When asked if salary affects job satisfaction, 71 percent of respondents said, “It’s one piece of the bigger puzzle.” Twenty-five percent said “absolutely,” while five percent said, “Money isn’t what keeps me satisfied.”

Career counselor Mark Franklin, president of Toronto-based CareerCycles, said communicators’ desire for rewards other than high salary match an overall trend he’s noticed in the last 10 years.

“People are more interested in the organization and what it’s about and how management behaves more than the job itself,” remarked Franklin. “That’s what seems to drive people. They really like working in an organization with key characteristics like management style and treating their employees well.”

Accordingly, most communicators (65 percent) believe management “respects and values” their role.

“I have the freedom to do my job, implement new concepts and push the envelope,” said one respondent. “My opinion is listened to and valued [by management].”

The poll also found that the majority of communicators intend to stay in their current role for at least the next six months.

Sagging economy a factor

A September 2007 study by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) found that 74 percent of communicators “are satisfied with the salary level for their jobs.”

Meanwhile, 90 percent said they received a raise in the past two years and 96 percent expect a salary increase at the next review.

“Although they are satisfied with their salaries, communicators who participated in the study are not as satisfied with work/organization,” IABC President Julie Freeman said. “Only 61 percent of respondents said they plan on staying with their current organization for the next two years.”

Salary not as important as other factors

Communicators value a better work-life balance, more days off and their bosses’ respect as much if not more than their salary, the poll shows.

One respondent said salary and job satisfaction are equally important. Doing something worthwhile, and being human, make her happy in her job, she said. “It’s nice to be appreciated every now and then.”

Another said: “[Salary] is part of the filtering criteria for which jobs I’ve considered, but quickly becomes much less important if the culture, the scope of the job and my relationship with my internal clients does not grow and allow me to help my organization achieve its goals.”

“Got to eat,” remarked one respondent. “But also can’t be abused, even for high dollars.”

This portion of the IABC study contradicts one element of the Ragan poll, which found a vast majority of communicators are not actively pursuing a new job.

Forty-one percent of respondents to the Ragan poll said they would take a new job if the opportunity presented itself, while 37 percent said they were not looking for new work in the next six months.

A handful of respondents pointed to economic troubles as the reason for looking for a new job in the next six months.

“Housing industry crunch has hurt my company’s business,” a respondent said. “They’re already cutting jobs and I’m anticipating that, like always, communicators are among the first to go.”

Added another: “Multiple layoffs have left me feeling uneasy about this company’s future.”

Freeman believes corporate communicators have little reason to fear the threat of a prolonged economic downturn.

“Despite the threat of economic recession, the communications industry appears to be thriving,” she said, noting it was her observation and not a result of any study. “Companies, both on the agency and corporate side, are seeking effective and creative people who can guide their communications.”

In addition to the economy, there was a litany of other reasons why communicators might be leaving their jobs, although a definite pattern emerged: boredom and misery at work.


Since other departments often treat communications as nonessential, and sometimes even as annoyances, it seems surprising that a large number of poll respondents think their bosses respect them.

Sixty-five percent believe management values and respects their role as communicator.

The words strategy often appeared in the comments to this topic. It appears communicators feel most valued and respected by their bosses when they play a strategic role.

“My team has quickly transformed the role of communications from simply being a functional service bureau, to a strategic corporate partner,” one respondent said. “Our group works with every functional area and is linking our programs and support to top and bottom line results. As such, the communications department has made the sound business case for increased budget in 2008.”

With a strategic approach to communications comes the coveted “seat at the table,” which is also a strong indicator of value and respect.

“I report directly to [the] CEO,” said one respondent. “All my projects are well connected to corporate strategy.”

Added another: “[I’m] considered a trusted advisor.”

Of the communicators who don’t feel respected or valued, most supplied comments like
“[My company is] scared to communicate anything. Silence is their M.O.”

PollStream partnered with Ragan to create POLL-arized, a series of interactive polls about corporate communications. PollStream is a leading provider of interactive engagement and community building solutions for Fortune 1000 organizations. Its proprietary two-way dialogue solutions effectively engage, educate, and inform customers and employees online. For more information, please visit

How to get happy at work

Career counselor and president of CareerCycles Mark Franklin offers five ways to increase job satisfaction.

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