But what may be surprising is just how much more motivating these issues are in a person’s decision to switch jobs today than they were a few years ago, according to a new Gallup study of more than 13,000 US employees. The last time Gallup did a similar survey was 2015.
Employers serious about winning the war for talent in the next year or so should view the following six factors as the baseline expectations of potential hires, and should aim to satisfy these conditions when trying to lure — or keep — great employees.
“A convincing job offer … will likely need to address most of these attributes when selling (and reselling) people on your workplace,” said Ben Wigert, Gallup’s director of workplace management research and strategy in a report on the survey’s results.
In order of importance, employees said that if they were to look for a job today they would prioritize:
1. Compensation: The study found the No. 1 factor respondents said they would want in a new position is a “significant increase in income or benefits,” which 64% cited as very important. That’s up from 41% in 2015, when “income or benefits” ranked fourth on their priority list.
“One key reason for this shift is employees are aware they are in a job seeker’s market now,” Wigert said.
2. Work-life balance: The category “work-life balance and well-being” also has risen in importance — with 61% of respondents today saying these factors are “very important” versus 53% in 2015.
“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,” Wigert noted.
3. Chance to play to their strengths: 58% of respondents said it was important for them to find a role that “lets them do what they do best.”
“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,” Wigert recommended.
4. Job security: Some things never change. The same percentage of respondents (53%) today as in 2015 said they would seek job security and stability if they were to switch jobs.
Given the crazy instability individuals, employers and industries have experienced during the pandemic, it’s tough to know exactly how broadly stability is defined by job seekers these days.
But, Wigert noted, “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. Vaccination policies that align with job seekers’ beliefs: Good luck with this one, since there can be quite a stark dichotomy in beliefs over vaccine mandates.
Nevertheless, 43% of respondents said it was important that a new employer have Covid policies that align with their own views. Gallup notes the survey was conducted before the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s federal vaccination mandate.
6. Diversity and inclusiveness: There is no direct comparison to 2015 on how important the issue of diversity and inclusion is for job seekers since it was not an option included in the earlier survey. But this time, 42% of people cited it as very important.
Employees want real change, not platitudes, when it comes to a company’s ongoing commitment to diversify its workforce and leadership and to create a culture of inclusion for everyone, Wigert said. “Recruiters must be prepared to discuss those changes and commitments.”
Tailor your approach
While the six factors listed here are generally important to all US job seekers these days, some may be more important than others depending on a job seeker’s industry, skills or location.
So Wigert recommends that employers pay attention to what their highest performing talent likes about working at the organization — or what they’d like more of — to inform how they present what the company has to offer potential hires.
“Now is the time to look within your organization and ask: Are your most important job candidates buying what you’re selling?”
The Gallup survey was conducted between Oct. 16 and 28, 2021. The 13,085 respondents were a random, nationally representative group of full-time and part-time employees aged 18 or older. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 1 percentage point at the 95% confidence level.