Work-life balance was voted as the top driver when seeking a new employer by 65% of Brits — beating salary and benefits (64%) for the first time in seven years.
That’s according to a survey by specialist recruiter Randstad which polled more than 9,000 UK respondents about employer brand perception.
Some 61% of respondents said they valued job security, 58% were concerned about good training, and 55% voted for a pleasant work atmosphere.
When splitting respondents into blue and white-collar groups, the survey found that 59% of blue-collar workers considered work-life balance as the most important driver, compared to 68% of white-collar workers.
There was also a noticeable split in terms of age groups, with 70% of 55-64 year olds prioritizing work-life balance compared to just 59% of 18-24 year olds
Randstad UK CEO Victoria Short said: “In some respects, the profound changes in many people’s jobs have clearly brought the benefits of flexible working to the surface. Our data suggests there are two groups of workers who want to see a more balanced lifestyle here.
“For many, remote working has increased the number of hours they are connected to their employers, reflecting the need for a better lifestyle balance. At the same time, some have benefitted from working at home by being able to carry out tasks or juggle personal responsibilities around a more flexible work schedule.
“Interestingly, our findings revealed a stronger appetite for a better work-life balance in the UK compared to the rest of Europe. Overseas, an attractive salary and benefits package still holds the top spot in terms of the most important aspect when choosing an employer. For me, that suggests some lessons to be learned from the UK around promoting flexible working patterns,” she concluded.
What employees want vs what’s on offer
According to the findings, the disconnect between what employees want and what their employer offers in the UK encompasses everything from safety and career progression, to salary, security, and company reputation.
The data indicates a significant gap between the two, highlighting the need for leaders to keep their ears closer to the ground in order to remain attractive to a wider range of prospective employees.
A look at current employer offerings showed that work-life balance was further down the priority list, sitting in sixth place. Looking at the general perception of what employers across the UK offer as a whole, work-life balance slips even further down, to eighth place, highlighting an oversight of the importance of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Career changes on the horizon for one in five
Despite the country’s unemployment rate currently sitting higher than it was at the start of the pandemic at 4.9%, a fifth of people are still planning to jump ship and explore new opportunities within the next few months.
When seeking new opportunities, recruiters were identified as the most-used channel by job switchers. One in three (33%) are now tapping into local expertise to secure a new role, overtaking job portals as the former most popular platform.
Pandemic pay cuts
When over 9,000 UK respondents were questioned about what change in salary was taken in their latest role, a quarter (24%) stated that they switched roles for the same salary, highlighting lower confidence in requesting a higher pay package from a new employer.
Almost half (48%) of 55-64-year-olds surveyed reported a decrease in their salary. Geographically, the East of England was the hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of remuneration — 28% changed jobs, and with a pay cut, compared to just 14% in London.
A quarter of women surveyed said they did not believe the pandemic would influence their career progression in the next 12 months, compared to just 17% of men. Data also revealed that one in five Brits does not expect to receive a promotion in the year ahead, amid financial difficulties and businesses finding their feet again post-pandemic.
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