Money isn’t everything when it comes to having a fulfilling career, according to a new Gumtree report shared exclusively with Stylist. So, what are the jobs with salaries under £30,000 that are actually making women happy?
When we think about the gender pay gap, it’s easy for stock images of boardrooms, science labs and film sets to flash through our minds. But it’s important to realise that the disparity trickles throughout the rest of the job market. Because the reality is that women working in typically low-paying industries are almost twice as likely to earn less than £15,000 a year compared to their male counterparts.
Troublingly, over a third of people who earn less than the average UK salary of £30, 000 are unsure or worried about being able to pay the bills, and almost three quarters would not be able to afford to pay a large unexpected outgoing. This is the same for both men and women.
However, despite the financial anxieties that this way of living might cause many people, a new report suggests that money isn’t everything when it comes to a fulfilling career.
The research, conducted by Gumtree, has cited flexibility, perks, breaks, learning and development opportunities and contentment as being the factors behind a happy work life. It describes the “Hidden Heroes” sector of the UK economy as an emerging labour workforce that is motivated by employee benefits rather than take-home pay alone.
Fitness, education, security and construction are the industries with the happiest low-paid employees, according to the research.
The happiest industry is sports, fitness and leisure, with more than four in five (85%) looking forward to going to work every day. On the other hand, less than two thirds (61%) of those working in customer services enjoy going to work.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that over a quarter of those surveyed (26%) said their working hours aren’t the typical 9-5. At a time when freelancing and flexible hours are on the rise, we seem to be breaking away from the traditional expectations of a day at the office.
Megan, a yoga teacher who privately rents with her partner in Brighton, earns £16,000 and doesn’t have any savings.
“What I value the most is the passion I have for what I do as I am aware that many people are working in a career that they have little or no passion for,” she tells Stylist.
“Being my own boss, having flexibility in my working life and having lots of spare time for personal projects and studies are also aspects of my career that I value highly as they allow me to live life on my terms and maintain a good work-life balance.
“The job does not cause me any stress so I definitely feel a lot more relaxed and happy than I have with previous jobs. However, my low income does prevent me from being able to do some things in life that I would like to do such as travel more, and I do have to be very cautious with my spending.”
The study also highlighted the least enjoyed careers under £30k, including hospitality, retail and customer services.
Millennials are the most likely to feel overqualified, with almost half (45%) of 25-34 year olds thinking their talents were being wasted in their current role. Half of hospitality and catering workers feel overqualified.
Jennah, an administrative assistant renting with her partner and children in Lancashire, currently earns £24,000. Although this is significantly more (£8,000) than Megan, Jennah holds two degrees and feels overqualified for her role. However, the felixibility and security of her job means that she us unsure about pursuing an alternative career.
“I am considering changing career but have no idea what to go into and value the safety net that my current job role gives me,” she explains. “I value comfort and security as a result of having a young family - coupled with my education there is a potential to do something different, but then again I think that it might not be worth starting over.”
Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said of the report: “The UK labour market is booming with more people now in work than ever before, youth unemployment falling by half since 2010 and record levels of female employment. Behind these figures are millions of UK workers, employed across a huge range of sectors, who are creating a better future for their families and the UK – boosting their local economies and supporting local communities.”
Here’s the happiest Hidden Heroes workers full list:
1 Sports, fitness and leisure (85%)
2 Teaching and education (80%)
3 Construction and property (75%)
4 Computing and IT / security (73%)
5 Healthcare, beauty and medical (71%)
6 Driving and automotive (70%)
7 Hospitality and catering / housekeeping and cleaning (68%)
8 Retail and FMCG (66%)
9 Customer service (61%)
Although many women of course prefer this way of working, the report also shows that males continue to outperform females in average salary (£18,336 v £14,927) within this workforce. This reiterates the fact that we must continue to campaign for gender parity.
In the meantime, a spot of yoga does sound pretty ideal right now.
Images: Unsplash, Getty