A study published recently by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) suggests that "relationships with colleagues, self-worth and nature of the job" mean more to UK workers than the size of their take-home pay.
Of the 2,000 employees polled, 80% said they would "turn down a big salary increase if it meant working with people or in an environment they didn't like".
AET chief executive, Mark Farrar, said: "The results show that when it comes to [workplace] happiness, money is far from the key driving factor for most of us.
"Life dictates that we earn as much as we can to maintain or improve our circumstances, of course, but most [respondents] deemed working with good people or in a role they feel valued in as more important than salary. Many respondents had turned down better-paid jobs because it would have meant less time with their family and a poorer work-life balance."
The study also found that a third of respondents had left a well-paid job because "they didn't deem it worth the added pressure", while others felt less challenged or unappreciated by their boss. More than a quarter of respondents had even turned down promotions and more pay for fear of impact on their family life.
Team spirit and workplace camaraderie remain important, with almost 80% of respondents saying they wouldn't want a better-paid job if it meant they didn't get on with their workmates or if it involved more stress. And job satisfaction remains high in many UK workplaces, with only 15% of the 2,000 workers polled disliking their current job. Reasons given included "dull and unfulfilling" work, lack of appreciation from their boss and low pay.
"I'm not surprised by the results of this study," said Olivia Hill, head of HR at AAT. "It just goes to show that there is more to work than money. People don't want stress in their lives and a great way to stay stress-free is to work in an environment you find comfortable, with people you like and with a manageable workload."