- Better pay and wellbeing are motivating factors for employees seeking new jobs
- These six factors make up the baseline expectations for today's job seekers
- Employers must work hard to "sell" their employee value proposition
Gallup recently asked 13,085 U.S. employees what was most important to them when deciding whether to accept a new job offered by a new employer.
The study revealed that pay and wellbeing-related issues have both risen significantly in recent years, clinching the first and second spots as the most important factors for accepting a job elsewhere.
These key job attributes will likely define the war for talent in the coming year, alongside other perennial wants, such as a job that plays to their strengths and job security. COVID-19 policies and DEI priorities are also on the minds of many workers.
Why it matters: Understanding what current employees seek from their next job is key to optimizing an organization's talent attraction strategies and retaining top talent.
Consider these job attributes the baseline expectations of today's job seeker. A convincing job offer and compelling employee value proposition will likely need to address most of these attributes when selling (and reselling) people on your workplace.
The six key factors that employees consider most important when deciding whether or not to take a job with a different organization:
1. A significant increase in income or benefits (64% said "very important")
Throughout Gallup's historical workplace research, pay has been one of the most important factors when accepting a new job offer. Unsurprisingly, it continues to top the list amid the "Great Reshuffling" of talent happening in the workforce. What did surprise us, however, is how much "pay and benefits" have increased in importance.
Since 2015, this item has risen in priority for workers from No. 4 on our list with 41% of employees citing it as "very important," to No. 1 with 64% of employees naming it as a critical factor in taking a new job. One key reason for this shift is employees are aware they are in a job seeker's market now. Wages are rising in response to intense competition for talent. Job seekers know there are opportunities to make more money, which gives them the confidence to seek higher pay.
2. Greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing (61%)
Work-life balance and wellbeing have also increased in importance notably since 2015, with 53% of employees citing them as "very important" compared with 61% of today's workforce. Many other Gallup workplace studies from the past year highlight just how burned out, overwhelmed and stressed out the workforce is at large. Even for workers who aren't experiencing burnout, the significant increase in remote work has raised awareness about the value of job flexibility options -- options that are largely here to stay.
Personal freedoms to work when, where and how best suits you have become a new will of the workforce.
3. The ability to do what they do best (58%)
When people have the opportunity to do work they are naturally gifted at and trained to do, they enjoy their work, find it stimulating, and want to do more of it. Unsurprisingly, this item remains one of the most important for workers. Workers who aren't allowed to use their strengths very often seek jobs where they can; workers who do get to use their strengths seek out jobs where they get to use them even more.
With this in mind, recruiters should make the extra effort to understand what really excites a candidate about their work. Recruiters should also give them a realistic job preview -- what the daily routine is going to feel like, who they are going to be working with, and what they will be expected to do.
4. Greater stability and job security (53%)
The importance of this item has remained unchanged since we asked in 2015. About half of workers are looking for jobs that provide greater stability and security than they currently have. Nevertheless, what security means (and what feels secure) has likely changed since the start of the pandemic -- and depends a lot on how you now feel about the prospects of your current organization, your industry, and your profession after what has transpired. Additionally, stability and security are based on future expectations; as expectations for the future change, what job security means is likely to change too.
About half of workers are looking for jobs that provide greater stability and security than they currently have.
After two years of living with daily uncertainties about our health, economy, and what we want our jobs to look like going forward, it's important for employers to show up as a stabilizing force employees can count on through thick and thin.
5. COVID-19 vaccination policies that align with my beliefs (43%)
This survey was in the field while a federal mandate was in place requiring federal contractors to be vaccinated. Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down that mandate, and it is unclear as of this writing what will happen next. As of December 2021, 36% of employees worked for an employer that required vaccinations in initial compliance with the mandate. Approximately 25% of U.S. workers were unvaccinated at that time.
The situation is fluid, but Gallup's data on the topic of employee vaccinations suggest that employees have very strong feelings on both sides of the issue. The results also suggest that alignment between beliefs and policies is a significant factor for four out of 10 employees when being recruited.
6. The organization is diverse and inclusive of all types of people (42%)
This is the first time that Gallup has offered this option for survey respondents to select and it ranks near the top for employees. Two years since the killing of George Floyd and the international Black Lives Matter protests that followed, the fact that support continues to grow for creating more equitable and inclusive workplaces is a sign of societal progress. And, as many employers have discovered, workers today are demanding concrete, substantial change on these issues, beyond platitudes. Recruiters must be prepared to discuss those changes and commitments. They must be prepared to answer challenging questions like:
Has diversity, equity and inclusion become an "always priority" at the company?
Does our candidate experience and employer brand reflect that commitment?
Bottom Line: Is Your Organization 'Selling' What Employees Want to Buy?
Employers must ultimately sell their employee value proposition (EVP) to potential job candidates. As our findings suggest, pay is top of mind for people, but they're not just focused on pay vs. everything else. Compensation is naturally intertwined with development, growth, reward and recognition. And we have all had a crash course in the importance of wellbeing in our work and home lives.
The art of talent attraction requires the creation of a total promise to potential hires, from the hard financial numbers and opportunities for advancement to the daily employee experiences that define your work life.
Employers should consider the following:
- Improve your pay conversations. Arming your hiring managers and team leaders with up-to-date market pay rates and total compensation options will be critical to building a strong workforce without blindly overpaying for talent. Just as important is getting pay conversations right. Most people assume they are underpaid, and it's the all-important "pay conversation" that helps employees understand the true value of their compensation and how it connects to their performance and development. Managers should be trained to have this conversation and "pay with purpose." Employees need to feel valued for their contributions and have an individual development plan that defines a path for future growth opportunities.
- Review your wellbeing promise. When updating your EVP, it's time to put wellbeing up front if it's not already. Wellbeing (beyond mere wellness) and flexibility have risen substantially in importance to employees in recent years. Employees want to know their employer cares about them as a person and that their work is going to help them thrive rather than burn out.
- Assess your EVP and candidate experience. The six items above are generally true for the entire U.S. workforce. That said, there are important differences when it comes to various types of jobs, candidate pools, industries, geographies and employee demographics. If employers really want to hone their talent attraction and recruiting practices, they need to analyze their unique recruiting environment and the desires of their job market(s).
- Narrow your focus to top talent. Employers who are searching for the best talent need to recognize that high-performing, high-potential individuals often have unique desires. Employers should study their own high performers and top-tier job candidates so that their recruiting targets and resonates with the right people.
Now is the time to look within your organization and ask: Are your most important job candidates buying what you're selling?