Key To Techie Happiness? Good Co-Workers 1st, Money 2nd

Money may still talk, but what really counts in keeping information technology professionals happy at work is getting along with their colleagues, according to Spiceworks, a network of IT professionals.

Relationships with coworkers – including managers - is the top driver of happiness for 61 percent of IT professionals in the U.S. and United Kingdom, Spiceworks found in its survey, released today. Not far behind that were annual pay and having a manageable stress level, each cited by 53 percent of the survey pool.

"Relationships reign supreme, but that doesn’t mean money doesn’t matter," said Peter Tsai, an analyst at Spiceworks, in a statement. "You might say that money alone can’t buy happiness, but it sure can help."

Additional data from the survey emphasizes that point. Spiceworks drilled down into workplace attitudes with more than 850 IT professionals and found that only 20 percent who said they were unhappy at work had strong relationships with coworkers while 57 percent were happy, a nearly threefold difference. Meanwhile, 30 percent of unhappy workers said they were paid fairly while 59 percent of  happy workers liked what they were making, a narrower gap.

Derek Odegard, president and CEO of CentricsIT, a solution provider based in Norcross, Ga., believes the Spiceworks findings are "very true."

"At the end of the day, we're spending more time with our coworkers than we are [with] our family," he told ITBestOfBreed. "It is very, very important, if you're going to have a work-life balance or you're going to try to create a culture that is positive, the coworker influence and how they bond is extremely important because you're with those people every single day."

"It only takes one bad egg to create bad energy," Odegard said. "It's amazing how much that can resonate outward in the organization."

At Trace3, a solution provider based in Irvine, Calif., tech professionals "build extremely strong and long-lasting relationships with their peers," says Danielle Rodriguez, vice president of people and organizational health, in an email to ITBestOfBreed. And many engineers and sales team members organize "fun events" outside the office, such as poker nights and fishing trips, she added.

Rodriguez added: "I have found that people in tech who seek out a job for extrinsic factors such as money typically seek despair."

The Spiceworks survey results point to other factors tat come into play when it comes to worker happiness, but much less than the top three. For instance, 39 percent cited work hours as a key to happiness, while 21 percent pointed to vacation time. And despite the advances of technology, only 16 percent cited the ability to work remotely as a key to happiness.

Geography was also a factor in the Spiceworks findings. Happy tech workers are nearly twice as likely to report living in an area they believe has a favorable job market. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of those regions include metropolitan areas with high technology concentrations, such as Boston; Denver; Austin, Texas; and the Bay Area, each of which had an unemployment rate of between 2.5 and 3.4 percent in December, well below the preliminary national rate of 4.5 percent for the month.

Want to read more about happiness in the workplace? Here are links to four articles that can offer you a broader perspective:

LIFEHACK: 10 signs you are working in a happy workplace

Spoiler alert: None of these signs says anything about money.


Here's a list of 10 simple things to create a happy workplace, from sitting down with employees for lunch to walking the halls and meeting people.

INC.COM: 9 ways to create a friendly work environment

The office environment can affect not only productivity and creativity, but also an employee's well-being, Chirag Kulkami writes. He lists several ways to motivate and encourage employees.

FORTUNE: How can small businesses make employees happy in a big way?

The more employees trust their leaders, the more likely they'll believe they're in a "great" workplace.