Is a pay rise better than sex?

In the week that the bonkbuster Fifty Shades of Grey is released (or possibly unchained) at British cinemas, politicians of all shades have been prostrating themselves in front of the British Chamber of Commerce. They say that there’s no such thing as coincidence and lo, there was the Prime Minister perfecting his come-hither eyes to persuade business leaders that, come the election, a Conservative government would make them the best bedfellow. More considerate of their needs. More attuned to their desires. And certainly not out to shaft them like those Labour brutes Miliband and Balls.

Not that David Cameron was being easy with his affections. This was no ‘No Strings’ offer. Actually, Cameron had a request of his own: might business leaders see their way to raise wages for their workers? Workers who, despite the government’s talk of growth just aren’t feeling a bulge in their pockets. Workers who also happen to be voters at the forthcoming, election. Workers who, if they’re not impressed with Cameron’s performance and don’t feel the benefit of their relationship with Dave, might turf him out of Downing Street. A regrettable one-term-stand.

While you might be wondering which politician wouldn’t benefit from being bound and gagged – especially gagged – I got to thinking about the relationship between business and, ahem, pleasure. Specifically – is a pay rise better than sex?

It depends, of course. On the sex, and on the pay rise. But I remember reading somewhere that the feeling of the elation that you get when you get a pay rise – would it be too strong to call it euphoria? – lasts 40 minutes. Now, I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s lovemaking but it would take quite the orgasm to compete with a 40-minute high. And regardless of how good you are in the sack, who among you will deny that the feeling of getting a pay rise, of your good work being recognised and rewarded, puts a spring in your step? Because, let’s face it, an awful lot of us, rightly or wrongly, derive at least some of our self-esteem from our work. Just as an awful lot of us, rightly or wrongly, derive at least some of our self-esteem from our relationships.

And here, I think, is the nub of the matter. Being in a good job, a job that suits you, that makes you feel good about yourself, that fulfils your needs as well as those of your “partner” (ie, your employer) is as important as being in a good personal relationship. And if you don’t believe me, look at it this way: being in the wrong job can make you as miserable as being in the wrong relationship. The chip-chip-chipping away at your self-esteem. The reluctance to spend time and make an effort that turns into simmering resentment. The bitter and painful wrench of making a break. If you say you haven’t experienced any of these either awful circumstances personally or professionally, then you’re either extremely lucky or a liar. As in love, so in work: if it’s not working for you despite your best efforts, it’s not meant to be. Get out – before you hate them and yourself.

Now, if I wanted to make a cynical – nay, cack-handed – sales pitch, here’s where I’d say that a recruitment agency is like a dating agency – we try to match up potential partners to the happiness and benefit of both. I’d say that The Works is a veritable Cupid, a Fairy Godmother intent on producing as many Happy Ever Afters as we can. But I’m not the cynical sort. (Besides, I look terrible in a teeny toga and even worse in taffeta).

Instead, I’m going to ask you, dear readers, to take the time to think about whether, and how much, you love or like your job, and indeed your work. (Because your job and your work are different. You may be doing the right work but in the wrong place). I’m not entirely convinced by the adage that “if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life” but your work and/or your job shouldn’t make you unhappy. And you absolutely, definitely shouldn’t hate what you do. Not only will your lack of love be self-evident, you’re a long-time dead to be spending the majority of your waking hours being miserable. As Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, women who knew a thing or two about heartbreak, sang in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes – when love goes wrong, nothing goes right.

Happy Valentine’s Day.