Having a conscientious spouse can boost your salary by $4,000 a year

It turns out that who you marry won’t just affect your happiness at home — your spouse can have a profound impact on your career outcomes, according to a s
tudy by Brittany C. Solomon and Joshua J. Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis.

Solomon and Jackson looked at data collected from thousands of Australian households to analyse the impact of a spouse’s personality characteristics on an employee’s career prosperity.

They found that of the “big five” personality traits — agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, and openness — only conscientiousness affected work outcomes.

“With every standard-deviation increase in a spouse’s conscientiousness, an employee is likely to earn about $US4,000 more a year,” reported the Harvard Business Review in a recent issue. “An employee with an extremely conscientious spouse (two standard deviations above the mean) is 50% more likely to get a promotion than an employee with an extremely unconscientious spouse (two standard deviations below the mean).”

The researchers provided three reasons why this trait is correlated with income, promotions, and job satisfaction:

1. Conscientious spouses tend to handle more household chores and planning. This allows their partner to focus more on their career, or simply to have time to mentally recharge and unwind at the end of a workday.

2. People with conscientious spouses generally feel more satisfied with their marriage. An emotionally stable marriage without constant drama and stress at home allows them to bring more energy — physical and emotional — to work.

3. Oftentimes, traits of a conscientious spouse
rub off on their partner. These characteristics, such as organisation, diligence, and attentiveness, can have a positive influence on their careers.

If you want to get ahead at work, it’s important to understand how much your partner’s personality influences your success (and vice versa) — and you may want to start screening your dates for signs of conscientiousness.

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